Civil Rights – Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman – Murders – Tom Paxton Lyrics.

I thought this earlier post was relevant to the spate of recent posts I have been putting out.

Opher's World

Goodman Chaney Schwerner

Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were two young white men who went down to Mississippi in 1964 to help the Civil Rights cause and help sign up black registration for voting.

They were joined by James Chaney who was a young black man. They were pulled over by the cops for supposedly speeding and taken back to the police station.

Their bodies were later discovered buried in a damn. They were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan for daring to fight for justice, freedom, equality and an end to racism.

It is great that we have people as brave as these three heroes who are prepared to put their lives on the line, non-violently, for freedom and equality, but it is sad that such actions were ever necessary. Social justice is always paid for in blood.

The 1960s was not that long ago. It is hard to believe how bad things were.


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10 thoughts on “Civil Rights – Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman – Murders – Tom Paxton Lyrics.

  1. Actually this is a long time ago, in some respects a very long time ago.
    This kind of incident 52 years ago in some southern state swamp was common place and indicative of just how backward the US was and still is when compared to other western countries.
    However, you can’t be positively sure they were murdered by the KKK.
    These boys weren’t heroes – they were bloody stupid idiots begging for a bullet.
    What they were doing riding around Mississippi with a black dude beggars belief.

    Many whites are just as badly educated today as they were then.
    They’re called “Wiggers” and “Trailer Trash”.
    In so many respects, especially social conditions and education, the US hasn’t improved a jot.

    1. Fifty two years doesn’t seem that long ago to me. What was happening then, here and in the States, seems very different to me in many respects. We have made significant progress.
      I beg to differ in terms of their heroism. They did know what they were getting involved in and they did know what the dangers were. Michael Schwerner had been working for Core in the South and James Chaney was a black kid from the area working in Core too. They would have had no doubt about the dangers they were in. To do what they did in the face of such threat and intimidation was heroic. They might have been naïve but you can’t say they weren’t brave.
      Whether the KKK did the deed or not is largely immaterial. The KKK set the tone.
      Lynching and murder was the order of the day. In some ways it still is (to a lesser extent) – if the evidence on You Tube of police murder of blacks is accurate. I’ve seen some very disturbing video.
      You’re right about the education system. America is the epitome of capitalism with the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. If you are poor white, chicano or black you tend to get a bad deal. The education system is very patchy. The rich buy a good education – the poor get a very poor education. There is a great deal of ignorance, superstition and religious nonsense. There is so much resistance from the wealthy to paying taxes for education or medical care and social support for the poor. The attitude is that they deserve all they get. They should have tried harder. There is still entrenched racism and arrogance – or was the last time I was there. You can see the stupidity with the resistance to Obamacare.
      Parts of the States are Third World. It’s an indictment of the world’s richest nation. The inequality is obscene.

      1. 2 white kids with a black guy in their car?
        Heroic? No it wasn’t.
        That was no hands down blind stupidity. They put a red flag in front of a bull. No matter how objectionable the results were, that was still absolute stupidity personified.
        Particularly when you’re adamant that they knew the risks.
        However, being a member of some organisation doesn’t necessarily automatically mean one understands all that that may entail.
        Jo Cox would be a modern example of that mistake, where it is widely believed that despite her membership, she actually didn’t fully understand that the White Helmets are responsible for the constant and forced ingress of Muslims into Europe. She was of the belief that they were simply helpers. Wrong.

        I worked in Dallas Opher. I KNOW what US Racism smells like. You could not find a more racist city than Dallas.

        I see that youtube stuff almost every day, if I bother to click on the links sent in from other’s on the watch lists.

        People keep making the mistake of equating the US to the scene here in UK. It’s impossible to do so and they’re also forgetting the basis of the US, the United States – each one different with different local laws and customs. The southern states are another world to the likes of New York or Boston.

      2. I know what it’s like. I travelled, as a long hair, through America in 1971. We hitched, travelled greyhounds and worked in restaurants. We slept out under the stars and got into a few scrapes. We made good friends, black and white, and had some amazing times. The danger was always there.
        More recently my daughter worked in Louisiana and we toured through Mississippi looking for the old Blues haunts. It was very poor and neglected and still had that feel.
        People who stood up for what was right have to be admired.

      3. Opher, you were with your wife – there’s no way you were doing anything of the kind that would get you into any kind of scrapes – unless you’re an absolute simpleton, right?
        Quite how riding a bus or sleeping rough is perceived as any big deal, particularly in California, I don’t know.

        In Dallas, we were buying gear with cash in one hand and a gun in the other. That’s a potential scrape, not scraping dishes before putting them into the washing machine!

      4. Andrew – we hitched-hiked and grey-hounded our way across the States and back. Down into Texas and to Mexico. We had lifts with truck-drivers and black GIs and had some very close shaves. We met murderers, drug dealers and lots of people with nothing to lose. We dossed in strange houses with no money and saw the low end of racism and poverty first hand.
        What you describe was exactly what it was like. I was involved with a couple of dicey scenes.

      5. Well all I can say is that was foolhardy! I would never involve any female companion with any of my personal shenanigans, particularly those involving low-life’s and buying gear.
        My US boss (absolutely unawares that I was buying gear) insisted that I did get a gun for personal protection whilst outwith the work environment. I really wasn’t interested but before I knew it, I was foisted off to this gun range for practice – practice for quite what I’m none too sure, but I did carry this thing, a small snub-nosed .38. They arranged the permit. Everybody had seemed to have a gun as if it was like a pen in your jacket pocket. Totally nuts. Some bars asked you to hand it over upon entry, some didn’t. It was also definitely a case of the longer you’re there the less adventurous you become about where you go. All the warning signs become crystal clear simply due to observational awareness – I wouldn’t quite call it paranoia, but not that far off. Not exactly something I could ever get comfortable with but the world of coke dealers seems to attract a certain type of psychopathic nut job.
        These guys would shoot you were you black and a dollar short. I never revisited Dallas, funny that.

      6. Texas was probably the worst, most scary place, we went through. Couldn’t get anything to eat – they just ignored us. Got hassled and threatened. Got out of there fast.

      7. I never arrived to Dallas until 1997; all things considered that’s still quite recent. The racial divisions were loud and clear. I barely saw one single black face anywhere at anytime except the taxi driver from the airport on arrival.
        Although at night I did see the teams of street cleaners – all black – sweeping and hosing down the business district of the city.

        All the upmarket bars and restaurants were empty of them.
        The Latinos had their own completely separate venues – I was in a few and they were jam packed, crazy and dangerous places. One was a club I was taken to by a white guy who said “you gotta see this” – it must have held about three thousand and we were the only non-Latinos in the place.
        Quite often I’d go to this Rock club venue, the Velvet Room, situated about 100 yrs from Delaney Plaza, to see local alternate rock Texas bands, stuff that’s on the One Ton label, such as Doosu – who could have blown Nirvana et all off the stage. Not a middle class face to be seen, just the poor disenfranchised white “wigger” working classes.
        Dallas is the strangest of places where racism and social divisions seem to be adhered to without question. Everyone knows their place, accepts their lot and keeps quiet.
        A big mouth will get you dead in Dallas, Texas.

      8. I never went back. Though I’ve travelled extensively in Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. The South has a strange attitude. The thinking is different and often none too intelligent.
        I do not like the racism or class structure in the US. It is most pronounced in the South. If you are poor or coloured you are considered worthless and expendable by a lot of people.
        When we lived in LA our neighbours were lovely ladies – one of whom was a teacher coming up to retirement age. They were delightful, pleasant and friendly. It was quite a shock to have our first conversation revolving around how lucky we were to be living in this oasis of Downey – down the road behind us was the white trash, to both sides there was Chicano trash and straight ahead was Black trash. We weren’t used to hearing people slagged off so unpleasantly – particularly by ladies who were so middle class and well mannered.

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