Memorial Services Remember Neshoba County Civil Rights Martyrs

Several events will remember the three civil rights workers killed in Neshoba County, Miss., in 1964. On June 21, 1964, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner went missing; their bodies were later discovered in an earthen dam in what became one of the best-known civil rights murders.

The National Conference on Civil Rights will take place starting this Sunday, with a 6 p.m. ecumenical service and awards presentation at Jerusalem Temple Church. Bishop Ronnie Crudup Sr. of New Horizon Church International will be the speaker. The mayors of Philadelphia and Meridian will also be in attendance.

The conference itself will be at the Silver Star Hotel through Tuesday. Opening keynote will be given by Jerry Mitchell, investigative reporter with the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, who has been writing extensively about unsolved and unprosecuted civil rights cases.

Monday’s luncheon speaker will be Joan Sadoff of Pennsylvania, who is on the board of the Jackson-based Institute of Southern Jewish Life. She, husband Robert and Laura Lipson produced a film, “Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders,” about women from Mississippi who were grassroots civil rights leaders, including Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hammer and Unita Blackwell.

A screening of the film will follow, along with a panel discussion. Sadoff previously did a documentary entitled “Philadelphia, Mississippi: Untold Stories.”

Another group is organizing a memorial service, conference and caravan for justice, calling attention to the large number of unsolved cases. The group states there were over 50 martyrs, who will all be remembered.

The caravan will assemble on June 22 at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church east of Philadelphia, departing at 9 a.m. for the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.

A March for Justice will recall the march Martin Luther King Jr. did in Philadelphia on the second anniversary of the murders of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney. It will proceed to the Capitol, with an 11 a.m. rally on the steps.

The caravan will continue after lunch to the 31st Missionary Baptist Church in Meridian.

The next day, the group will assemble at 8 a.m. at the COFO office site, then go to the Longdale Community Center in Neshoba County to have a conference on a range of topics. A memorial service will start at 11:30 a.m., followed by a picnic. On June 24, the Steele family will hold a gathering starting at 10:30 a.m.