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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

IN MEMORY OF ANDY GOODMAN


"HE TRAVELED A SHORT WHILE TOWARDS THE SUN AND LEFT THE VIVID AIR SIGNED WITH HIS HONOR"--from Andrew Goodman's tombstone (paraphrasing a quote from Stephen Spender's poem, "I Think Of Those Who Are Truly Great")

Andrew Goodman (photo above) was born on November 23, 1943, in New York City and was reared on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the second of three sons of Robert and Carolyn Goodman and brother to David and Jonathan. The Goodmans were an intellectual family committed to progressive activism and social justice. They believed in "doing well by doing good". Andy was an activist from the age of fifteen; he graduated from the progressive Walden School which was known for its anti-authoritarian approach to learning. While a sophomore at Walden, Goodman traveled to Washington D.C., to participate in the "Youth March For Integrated Schools". As a senior, he and a friend visited a depressed coal mining region in West Virginia to prepare a report on poverty in the United States. He interviewed Jackie Robinson, one of his heroes.

Goodman attended the Honors Program at University of Wisconsin--Madison, for a semester but withdrew after falling ill with pneumonia. He transferred to Queens College, New York City, partly because of its strong drama department. With his brief experience as an off-Broadway actor, he originally planned to study drama, but switched to anthropology.

In April, 1964, he applied for and was accepted into the Mississippi Summer Project. He volunteered, along with Michael Schwerner, to work as part of "Freedom Summer", a CORE (Congress Of Racial Equality) project to register blacks to vote in Mississippi. Having protested U.S. President Lyndon Johnson's presence at that year's World's Fair, Goodman then left for training at the Western College For Women (now part of Miami University) in Oxford, OH. In June, Schwerner and Goodman were sent to Mississippi to begin registering blacks to vote.

On the night of June 20, 1964, the two reached Meridian, Mississippi, where Schwerner (photo left) was designated to be the head of the field office. There they joined with James Earl Chaney, a black man who was also a civil rights activist. On the morning of June 21, 1964, the three set out for Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Neshoba County, where they were to investigate the recent burning of a local black church, the Mount Zion Methodist Church, which had been designated as a site for the Freedom School for education and voter registration.

The three were initially arrested by Deputy Cecil Price for allegedly driving 35 miles over the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit. The three were taken to the jail in Neshoba County where Chaney (photo left) was booked for speeding, while Goodman and Schwerner were booked "for investigation".


After Chaney was fined $20, the three men were released and told to leave the County. Price followed them on State Route 19 to the county line, then turned around at approximately 10:30 p.m. On their way back to Meridian, they were stopped by two carloads of KKK members on a remote rural road. The men approached their car and then shot and killed Schwerner, followed by Goodman and finally Chaney.

Eventually the Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff and conspirators were convicted by Federal prosecutors of civil rights violations but were never convicted of murder. The case formed the basis of a made-for-television movie "Attack On Terror: the FBI vs. The Ku Klux Klan" and the feature film "Mississippi Burning".

On September 14, 2004, the Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood announced that he was gathering evidence for a charge of murder and intended to take the case to a Grand Jury. On January 7, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was arrested and later found guilty of three counts of manslaughter--not murder--on June 21, 2005, exactly 41 years to the day after the murders. Killen, then age 80, was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Andy's parents, Robert and Carolyn Goodman, set up the Andrew Goodman Foundation in 1966. The mission of the Foundation is "to recognize, encourage and inspire creative and effective local and individual action in support of civil rights, human dignity and social justice". Visit www.andrewgoodman.org

Goodman Mountain, a 2,176 foot peak in the Adirondack Mountain town of Tupper Lake, NY, where Andy Goodman and his family spent many of their summers, is named in Andy Goodman's memory.

New York City named "Freedom Place" a four-block stretch in Manhattan's Upper West Side, in honor of Goodman. A plaque on 70th and West End Avenues tells his story.



Queens College has a memorial to honor Andy Goodman. The day of his murder is acknowledged each year on campus and the clock tower of the campus library is dedicated to Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner.


The Walden School, at 88th Street and Central Park West, named its middle and upper school building in honor of Goodman's memory. The Trevor Day School now occupies the building and has maintained their building's name as the Andrew Goodman Building.

An outdoor memorial theater exists at Miami University in Oxford, OH, dedicated to the Freedom Summer alums. Miami University's now defunct Western College for Women also included historical lectures about Freedom Summer.

"Those Three Are On My Mind", was written by Pete Seeger to commemorate the three victims.

The Simon & Garfunkel song, "He Was My Brother" was dedicated to Goodman. Paul Simon had been a classmate of Goodman at Queens College.

To hear "He Was My Brother", click on the arrow below.



Andy lives forever in the hearts of his family and friends.

2 comments:

Mona Lisa said...

A beautiful tribute.

I also went online to find the poetry of Stephen Spender. Thank you for my continuing education.

robbin said...

I often wonder when fighting for my own passionate causes if I could ever be this brave. To die for something because the cause was the right thing to do. These people paved the way for so many. How proud we can be of the American housewives, college students and social leaders who may have been afraid but push through. To go against the norm and to face the hate. To stand up and say "ENOUGH!" I am still in aw.