Freedom Summer 2004 honors slain activists

By By Erin Hilsabeck / staff writer
June 16, 2004
Three civil rights activists killed in Neshoba County 40 years ago will be remembered Monday in what organizers hope will become an annual event in Meridian.
Freedom Summer 2004 will commemorate James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner killed June 21, 1964, near Philadelphia in one of the most notorious civil rights era slayings.
Chaney was a black Meridian resident, while Goodman and Schwerner were white New Yorkers. They had been in Neshoba County to investigate the burning of Mt. Zion church.
The event will begin at 11 a.m., with a gravesite service at Okatibbee Missionary Baptist Church, 5052 James Chaney Drive. That will be followed by a luncheon at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 544 James Chaney Drive.
Alice Walker, author of "The Color Purple," is expected to speak at the luncheon. Tickets for the luncheon are $15; organizations can sponsor tables for $100, $200 or $300.
A voter registration drive is planned for 2 p.m. at Dumont Plaza something Patton said is aimed at young people. Voter registration is down among young people across the board, not just for blacks, he said.
The day will end with a rally at First Union Baptist Church, 610 38th Ave. The Rev. Odell Hopkins, pastor of West Mount Miriah Baptist Church, will speak about the history behind the civil rights deaths.
Eloise Jenkins, co-chairman of the Freedom Summer 2004 committee, said she doesn't want people to be ashamed of what happened in 1964.
Patton added he believes events like Freedom Summer 2004 are good ways of teaching young people their history.

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