Today marks the 50th anniversary of the day this country lost three brave young men on home soil in a struggle to secure unfettered participation in one of the most sacred tenets of our democracy. The right to vote!
Known as freedom fighters, during the sweltering summer of 1964 in the State of Mississippi, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner lives was cut way to short!
The three had just volunteered to work on the Freedom Summer campaign and had just begun to register blacks in Mississippi to vote when they suddenly disappeared. They had just finished investigating the bombing of a nearby church when they were taken into custody under false pretenses, and never again seen alive by their fellow volunteers.
Their disappearance sparked a national outrage and the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. The investigation unveiled that on June 21, 1964, immediately upon being released from jail, the young men had been brutally beaten and murdered by a lynch mob.
This brutality along with other unsavory activities perpetrated by the defenders of the status quo was beginning to cause a shift in the social conscience of America. Eleven days after the disappearance of the young men, on July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law ended the unequal application of voter registration requirements throughout America and a host of other things.
Today we honor the sacrifice of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner by registering to vote and by actually voting and participating in the process.
It’s the only practical means established by our democracy here at home to secure the freedom we all enjoy today and we can accomplish it without the spilling of blood.