Lessons From Mississippi Burning Case Trial Of 1964

America still stands in awe just as it was some 52 years ago following the recent police brutalities.

After 52 years of continuous investigation into a civil right murder case, the Justice Department and Attorney General of Mississippi have finally closed the chapters on the case. The announcement which was made in June was greeted with different kinds of reactions from the public.

The terror caused in the entire nation by the civil rights murder case in Mississippi in 1964 has repeated itself following the recent killings in Falcon Heights, Baton Rouge and Dallas. The “Mississippi Burning” case as specially referred to by the FBI presents us with a hope of achieving racial equality and justice.

In the summer of 1964, three young boys who were mostly in their twenties, mysteriously disappeared while performing their duties as volunteers for the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. The three civil right workers: James Chaney, a Black from Mississippi, Micheal Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both White from New York vanished on 21st June outside Philadelphia, Mississippi. Their disappearance became a national concern which sparked series of protests across the country. This action led to the president at that time to call for the investigation of the case.

The FBI immediately took over the case and two days into their disappearance, the car they were driving was discovered in a swamp. Following that development, their bodies were retrieved in an earthen dam by FBI agents in the beginning of August.

But at this time, the usual custom of lynching in the south was about to be broken, perpetrators of the crime wouldn’t be allowed to automatically walk away free of charges as it has usually been. Though no state or local charges were leveled against the perpetrators of the crime, the federal government went ahead to press charges against 19 men for infringing on the rights of the three murdered men.

It took the lone effort of John Doar, the assistant attorney general for civil rights to champion the prosecution. At the onset, the trial witnessed some delays in appeal but due to the persistent effort by Attorney Doar to pursue justice, the trial ended with eight men put behind bars. Amongst these men included a deputy sheriff.

Some factors which led to the success in this trial as the fact that government to a decision and didn’t just sit on the fence, the national concern over the death of the three men and the Freedom Summer Leaders decision not to call for retribution against whites in Mississippi. There is obviously a lot to be learned from this historic trial to quench the current turmoil in the country caused by racial segregation and police brutality against Blacks.

White nationalism is contrary to all democratic principles of the United States, so it must be fought by all means, including bills and laws. It has for long been needed to recognize all of the KKK groups as terrorist organizations and ban them in the country. It took 40 years after the murder to convict a killer. This is an unacceptable form of justice. Mississippi had boiled after such obvious act of racism. Today race relations are getting worse, so if we won’t see any steps forward to reforms we can see terrible cases like this one.

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