Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, said yesterday's guilty verdict by a Mississippi jury in the lynching of three Mississippi civil rights workers in 1964 stands in stark contrast to 11 U.S. Senators who refuse to sign an apology for lynchings that killed more than 4,700 people, mostly African Americans.
"The willingness of an interracial jury in Mississippi to convict Edgar Ray Killen in the 1964 triple lynching stands in contrast to the refusal of the state's two senators to sign Senate Resolution 39, the senate's apology for failing to condemn this hateful practice," said Bond.
"Equally odious was the refusal of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to deny repeated requests from the resolution's sponsors for a roll call vote. Thereby, Frist provided cover to senators unwilling to publicly express their opposition to mob murder. 41 years and one day after James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered in Mississippi, 11 senators still will not sign this long awaited apology." In addition to Lott and Cochran of Miss., the following senators have not signed: John Sununu and Judd Gregg of N.H.; Lamar Alexander of Tenn.; John Cornyn of Texas; Mike Enzi and Craig Thomas of Wyo.; Robert Bennett of Utah; Jon Kyl of Ariz. and Richard Shelby of Ala.
Bond said, "All Americans of conscience need to hold these senators accountable, to call their offices demanding explanations why they refuse to be listed as opposing deaths by racist marauders." According to statistics compiled by Tuskegee University, 4,743 people, mostly African Americans, were lynched between 1882 and 1968.
On June 21, 1964, Chaney, 21, a black voter registration volunteer from Mississippi, Goodman, 20, and Schwerner, 24, both from New York, were investigating the burning of a black church near Philadelphia, Miss. when they were stopped for speeding and allegedly ambushed by Klansmen. Their bodies were found buried in an earthen dam 44 days after they disappeared.
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