Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, Monument to Civil Rights Workers
On June 21, 1964, three civil rights workers were found shot to death. It was later.discovered that the three were shot by members of the Klu Klux Klan, some of which had ties with the local Sheriffs Office and Police Department. These three civil rights activists were registering African Americans to vote. Their deaths caused so much outrage and discontent across the nation that it aided the passing of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Due to threats of violence, Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church was the only church that allowed civil rights workers to hold meetings. Two years after the slaying, Martin Luther King led a memorial service in honor of the three students.
Backstory and Context
During the "Freedom Summer," James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, civil rights activists, were working towards registering as many African American voters as they could. The three went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Neshoba County, to investigate the burning of an African American church. A conspiracy had begun to develop among members of the local Klu Klux Klan, Neshoba County's Sheriff's Office, and local police department to abduct and kill the young men who were only in their twenties. The three activists were abducted, beaten and shot.in close range. The ringleader, Edgar Ray Killen, along with seventeen others, were tried, and either acquitted or ended in a mistrial. This caused outrage among the nation. Many protests, both violent and peaceful, broke out over the injustice of the system. The murders of the innocent young men helped push congress into action, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, enacted not much after their deaths. In 2005, Edgar Killen was once again tried, and this time convicted, at age 80, of the deaths of the three men. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison. The remainder of the suspects that were still alive have not been tried.