Andy's Story

An American Icon Who Dreamed of Justice

In May of 1964, the historic Civil Rights Act was under attack by segregationists in Congress. In a school paper, Andrew Goodman wrote, “the Senators could not persist in this polite debate over the future dignity of a human race if the white Northerners were not so shockingly apathetic.” Within days of writing those words, Andrew asked for his parents’ permission to join Freedom Summer, a voter registration project aimed at registering African-Americans to vote in Mississippi.

On Andy’s first day, he and two other civil rights workers, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. The story of these three young men struck a public chord that galvanized support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“I am one of the many who stand on the shoulders of giants like Andy. His death forever changed our Nation, and in his example, we are reminded of the difference we each can make when we summon up the courage to lift up the lives of others.”

President Barack Obama

Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner embodied the coalitions of black and white, Jew and Christian, young and older Americans working together to form a more perfect union for all. Now a historic figure and role model to many, Andrew Goodman was first a beloved son, brother, friend, theater student and passionate advocate for fairness and equality. The timeline below highlights notable moments from Andy’s life as told through selected photos, personal correspondence, and other media.

 

November 23, 1943

Andrew Goodman was born

Andy’s life was demarcated by extraordinary episodes in American history. Born during World War II, his story helped guide our nation’s moral compass during the Civil Rights Era.

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June 21, 1964

Dear Mom and Dad

On his first day in Meridian, Andy wrote to his parents—it was his last letter home. "I have arrived safely in Meridian, Mississippi. This is a wonderful town and the weather is fine. I wish you were here."

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June 21, 1964

Murder in Mississippi

In the late hours of the night, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner lost their lives at hands of Neshoba County Sherrif Cecil Price and the Ku Klux Klan.

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August 4, 1964

The Grim 44 Days

In the swamps of Mississippi, federal search teams discovered body after body—nearly a dozen murdered African-Americans. But Andy, James, and Mikey could not be found. Finally, acting on tip, the FBI found their bodies buried beneath a 15-foot earthen dam. It was August 4, 1964.

Freedom, equality, and justice

Following the death of her son Andrew, Dr. Carolyn Goodman led a life of activism, fighting for the ideals her son held dear. (Photo left to right: Fannie Lee Chaney​, Carolyn Goodman, Ann Schwerner)

November 24, 2014

Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama awarded James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (posthumously), the nation's highest civilian honor on November 24, 2014.

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