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Eyes on the Prize
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Northern Murder Victims

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Slain civil rights workers Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman pictured on a poster calling for a CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) meeting, Mississippi 1964.

The civil rights movement brought a swift, often violent response from white segregationists willing to beat, threaten, and kill. By one count during Mississippi Freedom Summer there were 80 civil rights workers beaten, 1,000 arrests, 30 black homes and businesses bombed or burned, 37 churches bombed or burned, and four project workers killed. In Mississippi, three young CORE activists -- 20-year-old New York college student Andrew Goodman, 24-year-old Brooklyn native Michael Schwerner, and black Mississippian James Chaney -- were killed on the second day of 1964's Freedom Summer.

The search for their bodies turned up the corpses of other murdered African Americans and revealed a bitter irony: it took white Northern victims to ensure national attention and investigation. This pattern was repeated during the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches, when the fatal beating of 38-year-old Boston clergyman James Reeb and the shooting death of Detroit homemaker Viola Liuzzo spurred an outcry that the earlier murder of black Alabamian Jimmy Lee Jackson alone had not.

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