The Freedom Summer Murders (2014)
Book Review by Marina Davis
In the summer of 1964, three men were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in retaliation for their work registering African Americans to vote. Organizing peaceful protests against the violence and mistreatment of African Americans in Mississippi cost them their lives. This book describes the lead up and the years of legal proceedings following the murders of Andrew Goodman (a 20 year old college student), James Chaney (a 21 year old native Mississippian and civil rights activist), and Michael Schwerner (a 24 year old civil rights organizer and ex-social worker). Each is given a chapter that gives a brief biography and what led to his work with The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the organization behind the freedom rides and other civil rights projects.
The book briefly touches on what may have happened the night of June 21, 1964 off highway 19. Yet, more text is spent on the lives of each victim and the legal battles that followed the discovery of their remains. The book is a quick read meant for young adults and is smattered with pictures of the perpetrators, victims, their families, and the court proceedings. This book succeeds in giving a respectful account of the tragedy while being factually thorough. The author tries to humanize Goodman, Cheney, and Schwerner, framing them as more than mere victims.