Photography by Ian L. Sitren

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“Mississippi Burning” 50 Years Ago Today

Fifty years ago today, three Civil Rights workers were murdered by members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan including members of the Neshoba County Sheriff’s Department and Philadelphia Police Department of Mississippi. James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner were working on the “Freedom Summer” campaign registering people to vote. This story has been retold in the 1988 motion picture “Mississippi Burning” which was actually the name given the investigation by the FBI. Outrage over the murders of these three young men were among the many outrages that led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

My photograph here… So ordinary but yet so very profound in the history of this country and in all humanity… A section of the lunch counter from Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina that became pivotal in the protests against racial discrimination on Feb. 1, 1960. A non-violent protest by four very brave students, five months later the entire Woolworth’s chain was desegregated, serving blacks and whites alike.

One of the very moving and extraordinary things I saw, many unexpectedly, on my trip last year. On display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

One response

  1. Arlene Dulaney

    sobering! even with the turquoise and orange oiled cloth covered counter seats, i am not feeling a smile. now our prejudices, however not as obvious, and controlled by law, still are there. thanks for the shot. arlene

    June 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm

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