57th annual memorial service for Civil Rights Employees

MERIDIAN, miss. (WTOK) – The 57th annual memorial service for civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman & Michael Schwerner took place at the Historic Mt. Zion United Methodist Church on June 20th.

The three men were attacked and murdered by the Ku Klux Klan on June 21, 1964 in Neshoba County.

“We just love to remember the three young men because if they hadn’t come here to see Mt. Zion trying to get people to register here for voting, they’d probably be alive today. So we’re trying to do something to remember them and we made this memorial in their honor, ”said Jewel McDonald, organizer of the memorial service.

I spoke to an organizer whose parents had been beaten before the men were murdered and the mountain was burned. Zion’s Church.

“When they left the church, they came just a little way down the street and some men beat my dad and mom tried to get out of the car to help him. All of them had guns in hand and were aiming at my mother’s head. She was surrounded by guns, was scared and could do nothing but stop and pray, ”said Evelyn Calloway, the memorial organizer.

A special addition to the service were speakers from the James Lawson Institute, including civil rights activist James Lawson.

Lawson received a prestigious award for his work in civil justice.

“I have been honored to accept this award on behalf of the Reverend Lawson for Civil Rights and Social Justice, who is part of the National Civil Rights Conference. Reverend Lawson has worked on civil rights and social justice in the South, Southeast, and Los Angeles County for the past 40 years since the late 1950s. It is a great honor that he is a great man. He’s still strong at 92. If it wasn’t for COVID, he would be with us in person, but it was great to have him here virtually, ”said Daniel Lee, project manager at the James Lawson Institute.

The institute said that looking into history and revisiting places where atrocities took place and highlighting those events can prevent those events from happening again in the future.

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