WE ARE NOT AFRAID: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi by Seth & Philip Dray Cagin

WE ARE NOT AFRAID: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An in-depth account of the events leading up to the 1964 murders of three civil-rights activists, from two authors who have collaborated previously (on Hollywood Films of the Seventies, 1984). The three activists, whose deaths were memorialized in a famous Tom Paxton song (""Goodman, Schwerner. and Chaney""), were shot on the night of June 21, 1964, off a lonely dirt road in Philadelphia, Miss., by a consortium of Klan conspirators who wished to give a foul kickoff to the official start the next day of the Mississippi Project, a summer civil-rights program. Cagin and Dray have had access to the FBI's extensive summary of its own investigation into the abduction and murder of the trio, and manage to capture all of the ugly venom displayed by Southern rednecks toward these do-gooders from the North. Offering a dramatic, hour-by-hour chronicle of the events, the authors point out the irony of the FBI's relying, at least at first, on the very local law-enforcement officials involved in the crime and subsequent cover-up. Punctuating the narrative are the Johnson Administration's attempts to bring race relations in the South into the 20th century, and portraits of the students of the sum her project that ""marked a fruitful communion of two cultures, young black radicals and young white liberals, yielding perhaps the definitive cross-fertilization of the 1960's."" The epilogue, which follows up on some of the conspirators who, after serving short prison sentences, now go free to work in auto-sales lots and shopping malls, is chilling in its matter-of-factness. A gruesome story told with skill and passion: solid historical journalism.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
Publisher: Macmillan