Mississippi Klan Convictions

This summer is the forty-first since Freedom Summer, when civil rights works stormed into Mississippi to register black voters after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. Three workers, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, were kidnapped and murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Just this morning, the NY Times reports, a Klansman, Edgar Ray Killen, was convicted of manslaughter in all three cases. This case is but one of a series of convictions secured in the last decade in civil rights murders, including the death of Medgar Evers of Mississippi, and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four young girls.

This most recent court case revealed the painful reality that this country still suffers from racial injustice and just plain ignorance. Philadelphia, Mississippi mayor Harlan Majure claimed that the KKK did a lot of good. The jury's refusal to convict for murder, instead choosing manslaughter, was not justice. The wife of slain activist Michael Schwerner said it best:

"The fact that some of these jurors have lived all these years, and could not bring themselves to recognize that these were murders, indicates that there are still some people among you who choose to look aside, who choose to not see the truth."