In the summer of 1964, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) established a highly publicized campaign to register voters in the Deep South. Thousands of civil rights workers, many of them white college students from the north, joined the mission, which was known as Freedom Summer.
Michael Schwerner, a white New Yorker working with CORE, traveled to Mississippi, along with James Chaney, a black CORE worker from Meridian, Mississippi, to lead efforts to register black voters in the region. An organizing center was created at Mt. Zion Methodist Church, a black church in Longdale, Mississippi. On June 16, 1964, those efforts came to a halt when Klansmen torched the church.
Andrew Goodman, another white CORE worker from New York, arrived on June 21 to join Schwerner and Chaney to investigate the church burning. While passing through the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, the three men were stopped by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price, who was a member of the Klan.
The CORE workers were jailed, but released after seven hours and escorted out of town. Nevertheless, Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney were intercepted by Klansmen, joined by Cecil Price, who arrested them once again.
The three men were taken to a remote area where they were shot and killed; their bodies buried in an earthen dam. With tips from and FIB informant, their bodies were discovered on August 4, 1964.