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Arts & Culture

"Freedom Summer" Activists To Be Honored

The Andrew Goodman Foundation

When James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner went to Mississippi in 1964 to register black voters, it’s likely they were unaware of the danger they faced.

"They thought someone might spit at 'em or yell at 'em, but they didn’t realize they could get killed,” says David Goodman, an Antioch College alum and Andrew Goodman's younger brother. He was just 17 when his older brother and the others were kidnapped by members of the Ku Klux Klan. “If you’ve never experienced this amount of animosity and unwillingness to change, you couldn’t really appreciate that an American could kill another American because they had an opinion.”

After 44 days, the bodies of the three young men were found in a dam that was under construction. An informant led the FBI to the discovery.

Fifty years after what is known as "Freedom Summer," President Barack Obama will award Cheney, Goodman and Shwerner Presidential Medals of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor—in a White House ceremony on Nov. 24. Their families will accept the awards on their behalf.

Following Andrew Goodman's death, the Goodman family started a foundation in his honor. The mission of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, is to "empower the next generation to initiate and sustain creative and effective social action; we enable leaders and their communities to flourish by operating and investing in programs that advance civic engagement and intergenerational coalitions."

Foundation President David Goodman says his brother's death and the events of 1964 inspired him to look at civic participation in a way that he hadn't before, and says "the story of Goodman, Cheney, and Shwerner belongs to all of us."

To hear more of our conversation with David Goodman, check out this week's WYSO Weekend post at www.wyso.org. David Goodman is a current member of the Antioch College Board of Trustees; WYSO Public Radio is licensed to Antioch College.