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Klansman charged in slay of Queens College student

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Edgar Ray "Preacher" Killen, 79, a former Ku Klux Klansman, was arrested and charged with murder last week in the deaths of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman in rural Neshoba County in the summer of 1964.Goodman's mother, Carolyn, 89, who lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side, said in published reports she was "surprised but not shocked" at the arrest."I have said before that I do not seek revenge, only justice," she said.A grand jury in Philadelphia, Miss. indicted Killen and Sheriff Larry Myers said he expected more arrests would follow. Killen leaded not guilty to the murder charge.Others have been convicted in the case of the three civil rights workers but all on federal charges of violation of civil rights, not murder. Mississippi Circuit Court Judge Marcus Gordon ordered Killen, who owns and operates a sawmill on his 20-acre farm, held without bond pending a bail hearing.The names of Schwerner, 20, Chaney, 21, and Goodman, 20, have become symbolic of the turbulence of the 1960s and, in particular, the civil rights struggle during a period that is now known as Freedom Summer.The three, who had come to Mississippi to conduct voter registration among blacks, were kidnapped, shot to death and buried beneath an earthen dam. Their bodies were discovered after an intensive investigation by federal authorities.In 1967 federal grand juries returned indictments against 19 people, including Killen, on federal civil rights violations charges. Seven were convicted and sentenced to prison terms that ranged from three to 10 years. Killen's trial on federal conspiracy charges ended in a hung jury and he was released.No murder charges were filled against defendants in the 1967 trials, which was portrayed in the movie "Mississippi Burning."Both Goodman and his mother have been honored by Queens College.Carolyn Goodman was awarded the Queens College President's Medal at the school's 1996 commencement. Goodman, a psychologist, was cited for her years of activism for social justice. In her early years, she and her future husband, Robert, were involved in organizing farmer co-operatives and she later worked for the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugees Committee that aided Spanish Republicans forced to flee their homeland in the Spanish Civil War. She carried on her social activism after her children were grown and after Andrew's death.Inside the lobby of the Benjamin Rosenthal Library at Queens College is a wall plaque dedicated May 10, 1989: Chaney-Goodman-Schwerner Clock Tower."In the summer of 1964, Queens College student Andrew Goodman joined the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. He was assigned to work on voter registration with James Earl Chaney and Michael S. Schwerner. Returning from a visit to a rural church, they were kidnapped and murdered. Their deaths inspired countless others to continue the struggle for equality and justice for all Americans."On Nov. 7, 1990, one of the five bells in the clock tower was dedicated to the three men.Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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