Songs for Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner

Tonight marks the 50th anniversary of the murders of three civil rights workers —  James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner — who were killed in Philadelphia, Mississippi, by white members of that community, including the Sheriff’s office and the Ku Klux Klan, who were retaliating against the Civil Rights Movement and its “Freedom Summer” campaign in which Chaney, Goodman, and Shwerner were participating at the time.

The event has been most prominently portrayed in U.S. culture in the film Mississippi Burning, which focuses on the FBI investigation of the murders.  In the years directly following the murders, a number of prominent musicians took up the subject.  Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, and Phil Ochs are among the musicians who wrote songs about the event.  That list also includes Simon & Garfunkel, whose song “He Was My Brother” was dedicated to Goodman and quite explicitly addresses Goodman’s murder.

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