Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama named James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom — commemorating the lives they lost 50 years ago in an effort to bring justice and equality to Americans in Mississippi during Freedom Summer.

From the White House: “James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were civil rights activists and participants in “Freedom Summer,” an historic voter registration drive in 1964. As African Americans were systematically being blocked from voter rolls, Mr. Chaney, Mr. Goodman, and Mr. Schwerner joined hundreds of others working to register black voters in Mississippi. They were murdered at the outset of Freedom Summer. Their deaths shocked the nation and their efforts helped to inspire many of the landmark civil rights advancements that followed.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

“This Medal belongs to all Americans. Andy Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner represent over 900 Freedom Summer workers who risked their lives for American values. In a divisive time, they represented black and white, Christian and Jew, rich and poor standing together to protect the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Today, The Andrew Goodman Foundation carries on this work by organizing young people on College campuses across the country. Today’s youth, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, must continue the march toward fairness and equality of opportunity that our founding fathers envisioned.”– David Goodman, brother of Andrew Goodman and President of The Andrew Goodman Foundation.

The Goodman family will join the Chaneys and Schwerners in The White House to accept the Award on behalf of Andrew, James and Michael on November 24.