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And when the justified dead / are thrown up from the earth --

will Judgment’s Trumpet scream out / in a Blast -- / Murder in Mississippi?




Resurrection in Mississippi

     ( For Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner)


By Amin Sharif


They say that Mississippi

is like the sea and only will

give up her black dead at the end of time.


Tell me? How shall that be?


Will the young black corpses

be pieced together again as they were



Or will the bullet holes show?

Will broken legs dance?

Each dark shattered hand clap?

Will the torn and screaming

tongue speak?


Perhaps the nails and the wooden

crosses will bleed slowly once


warmed beneath a still smoldering



Tell me? How shall that be?


Will graceful tree limbs

bend low with each tattered rope

about their slender necks

pointing like a guilt finger

at the unmarked graves held within

the earth?


And when the justified dead

are thrown up from the earth—

will Judgment’s Trumpet scream out

in a Blast—


Murder in Mississippi?


Or are the Mississippi dead

buried too deep for the Eyes of

heaven to see?

The shroud of hate too deep and dark


for the light of Resurrection!


Tell me, how shall the dead of Mississippi

be raised and when will that time be?

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Murder at Rock Cut Road

Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner had just left the burnt out remains of a church bombed by the Ku Klux Klan at 1119, Road 747 in Philadelphia, Mississippi when they were arrested by the local sheriff.  Supposedly, they were released some time after ten o’clock that night. But they did not return to CORE headquarter that night or the next day. A search was launched for them and their car was found empty on a Mississippi road. The FBI and other national figures such as President Johnson and Bobby Kennedy also became interested in the search for the three idealistic young men.

But the three had been savagely murdered by the Klan on the night of June 21, 1964. Their bodies stuffed into an earthen dam as the victims of Mississippi justice.

Did their life and death have meaning? President Johnson would never have gotten his Civil Rights agenda through Congress if the murders had not occurred.

James Earl Chaney—Born 30 May 1943 in Meridian, Mississippi, and kidnapped and savagely murdered 21 June 1964 by KKK and the whites of Mississippi. His parents were Ben and Fannie Lee Chaney. In 1963, he joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and was involved in the 1964 massive voter registration and desegregation campaign in Mississippi called Freedom Summer.

Chaney was the eldest son in a family of five children.  His mother, a domestic servant, was protective; his father, a plasterer, left his mother when James was in his mid-teens.  He was slightly built, but athletic.  He was described as shy in public, but a cutup in his home.

Andrew GoodmanBorn 1943 in; kidnapped and savagely murdered 21 June 1964 by KKK and the whites of Mississippi, near the end of his first full day in Mississippi. He was intelligent, unassuming, happy, and outgoing.  He grew up as the second of three sons in a liberal household on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Goodman attended the progressive Walden School, widely known for its anti-authoritarian approach to learning. Longing for commitment, he left Queens College   and in April 1964, Goodman applied for and was accepted into the Mississippi Summer Project. 

Michael SchwernerBorn 1939 in New York City; kidnapped and savagely murdered 21 June 1964 by KKK and the whites of Mississippi. Called affectionately "Goatee," Schwerner, 24 years old, came to Mississippi January 1964 with his wife Rita, hired as a CORE field worker. He was the most despised of the three civil rights workers. Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers put out a contract on him in May 1964.

Schwerner was sent to Meridian,  largest city in eastern Mississippi. to organize a community center and other programs. He was the first white civil rights worker to be permanently based outside of the capitol of Jackson. 

In Meridian, Schwerner organized a boycott of a variety store until the store, which sold mostly to blacks, hired its first African American. He determinedly registered blacks to vote. Though he received hate mail and threatening phone calls and police harassment, Schwerner believed he made the right decision in coming to Mississippi, which, he believed was "the decisive battleground for America. Nowhere in the world is the idea of white supremacy more firmly entrenched, or more cancerous, than in Mississippi."

Schwerner was thus the leader of this triad of martyrs and the KKK were really after him and that the other two guys were just in the way and thus killed them as a means of keeping them silenced about their crime. Schwerner was the one with the big balls, so to speaka NY boy who didn't realize the absolute madness of an enemy who hated New York white arrogance more than "niggahs."

posted 2003

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The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth

By Andrew M. Manis

In this intriguing work, the first full-scale biography of Birmingham's Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth ("perhaps the most unsung of the many heroes of the American civil rights movement"), religious historian Manis compellingly depicts a dual, combustible life. While providing insights into Shuttleworth's pastoral work and family life, he also offers a lengthy analysis of his subject's civil rights activities. He contends that Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference went to Birmingham on Shuttlesworth's direct invitation and that they owed their success there largely to Shuttlesworth's having organized a large and loyal cadre of demonstrators over seven years. It was Shuttlesworth's tenacity and courage, Manis suggests, that toppled Birmingham's virulent racism. Based largely on interviews with Shuttlesworth, this well-written and -researched book offers valuable new information and insights into a crucial era of Southern and African American history.—Library Journal

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

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I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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update 5 March 2012




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