On June 20, 1964 Chaney (center), Goodman (left), and Schwerner (right), 3 civil rights rights workers who were trying to register black people to vote in Mississippi, went missing and were later found beaten and murdered. Attorney-General Bobby Kennedy urged FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to get a serious investigation going, and (against his own character and prejudices) he did. Read the recent dramatic anniversary account in the 'Daily Kos' by Meteor Blade:
A farmer who was nearly 50 years old when SNCC [Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee] tried unsuccessfully to register him, [Herbert] Lee was shot on September 25, 1961, in Liberty, Mississippi, by E.H. Hurst, a local white politician. At trial, he claimed self-defense, and the all-white jury agreed. Lewis Allen, another African-American, said later it wasn't self-defense. He, too, was murdered.
Before him, and before SNCC, there was the Rev. George Lee, no relation, a minister, grocer and printer, who started a local chapter of the NAACP. He persuaded nearly 100 blacks to register and got the feds to intervene so he could vote after he was refused that right in Belzoni, Mississippi. On May 7, 1955, Lee was driving home when someone shotgunned him from a passing car. The Humphreys County sheriff said Lee was killed in a traffic accident, and claimed the lead pellets in his face and head were probably dental fillings. The coroner ruled Lee had died from "unknown causes." No one was ever arrested in the case.
Mississippi was thus considered by CORE and SNCC the toughest segregationist state to crack, a place where black civil rights workers had been routinely harassed, beaten, arrested, firebombed and, as noted, murdered for years.
In pairs, we went door-to-door, sometimes welcomed, sometimes chased off the porch, urging black men and women who had never voted to risk registering and fulfil the 98-year-old promise of the Fifteenth Amendment. All of us were harassed and "warned," dozens of us were beaten, scores of us were arrested, many jailed.
Those were the bad old days of anti-civil rights terrorism and black voter suppression, when people were murdered for trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Now that we are civilized, 43 years later, senior officials at the White House and the Justice Department -- including Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales -- sought to reward Rove protege Tim Griffin, the attorney who engaged in illegal voter suppression called 'caging.'
Caging is essentially the practice of sending registered mail to voters in minority precincts and then challenging the votes of anyone whose mail was returned undelivered: especially to those, men and women serving in the army in Iraq, who are engaged in a dangerous mission to spread freedom and democracy in the world. It doesn't get any more cynical than that.
I suppose just as the murder of civil rights workers in Mississippi helped Lyndon Johnson pass the The Civil Rights Act in Congress 1964, the fact the Bush administration and Justice department have been so blatant about targeting minority voters, including black soldiers in Iraq, it is hoped that Democrats and any shamed Republicans left, may try to legislate to strengthen 'civil rights' voter fraud cases.
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