Three Civil Rights workers who died 50 years ago in Mississippi would
be collectively honored with a congressional gold medal if legislation
introduced in the House of Representatives is approved.
H.R. 4409, introduced April 4 by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.,
would award a single gold medal posthumously and collectively to James
Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner “in recognition of the
50th commemoration of their kidnapping and subsequent murders” on June
Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were registering African-Americans to
vote during the Freedom Summer of 1964 by assisting the Congress of
Racial Equality in Mississippi.
The three men “were imprisoned in Neshoba County, Mississippi,
without due process and released into the dead of the night into the
hands of Klansmen,” according to the legislation.
Their disappearance “captured national attention and led to an
investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Following a
44-day search by federal agents, the grim remains of James Chaney,
Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were discovered in an earthen
dam,” according to the bill.
The legislation points out that, though tragic, their deaths “helped
to secure the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and later the
Voting Rights Act of 1965 and led to the first permanent Federal
Bureau of Investigation field office in the State of Mississippi.”
“These three valiant activists are representative of countless
individuals who lost their lives on a quest for justice and equality,
including Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie More whose bodies were
also found during the massive search for Chaney, Goodman, and
Schwerner,” according to the bill.
Following the awarding of the gold medal, it would be given to
Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss., where it would “be available for
display or temporary loan to be displayed elsewhere, as appropriate,”
according to the legislation.
The legislation would also authorize the production and sale of
bronze duplicates to the public.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.