Category Archives: Peace Love Art and Activism

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner
from http://kateraedavis.com/2016/07/04/liberty-and-justice/

Growing up as Americans, we are taught to expect liberty and justice for all. Like many things that we absorb, we later learned that that expectation is a goal, but not necessarily a reality.

James E. Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 21, and Michael Schwerner, 24, believed that an active involvement in the civil rights movement was more important than simply calling for change. The three men were in Mississippi as part of the Freedom Summer project to help register the disenfranchised black voters.

On June 20, 1964, The NY Times reported that “Night riders struck Neshoba County in north-central Mississippi Tuesday when a Negro church was surrounded by armed white men, most of them masked. Three Negroes attending a church board meeting were beaten and were chased away. A short time later the church went up in flames.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Killings

On June 21,  Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner went to investigate the burning.

Police arrested them on speeding charges, incarcerated them for several hours, and then released them after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who murdered them near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

June 23, 1964: the Neshoba Democrat reported that: “The car driven by three integrationists who disappeared after being arrested last Sunday night here has been found by Federal Bureau of Investigation officers about 13 miles from Philadelphia, in the northeast corner of Neshoba County. The car, a 1963 or 1964 Ford station wagon, was located in heavy sweetgum growth on Highway 21, about 100 feet from the Bogue Chitto creek and about 100 feet off the highway. The station wagon had been burned.”

June 29, 1964: the FBI issued poster of missing workers.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Chaney Goodman Schwerner murdered

July – August 1964

July 12, 1964: while looking for the bodies of  the three missing civil rights workers  searchers discover the disarticulated lower torso of Charles Moore in the river south of Tallulah, Louisiana. Moore’s body was identified by the draft card he had in his possession at the time of his death.

August 4, 1964 six weeks into a federal investigation backed by President Johnson, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner’s bodies were found in an earthen dam.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Chaney Goodman Schwerner murdered

Arrests

December 4, 1964: FBI agents arrested 19 Mississippi men on federal conspiracy charges in connection with the slayings.

December 18, 1964: eighteen of the 21 Mississippians implicated in the murder were arraigned before a US commissioner in Meridan, MS.

Defendant Lawrence Rainey, Neshoba county sheriff, said, “Hey, let’s have some Red Man” –and bit off a cheek-filling plug. His deputy (and codefendant) Cecil Price smiled and other defendants and spectators laughed.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Racist Judge Cox

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

February 24, 1965: Federal Judge William Harold Cox, an ardent segregationist, threw out the indictments against all conspirators other than Rainey and Price on the ground that the other seventeen were not acting “under color of state law.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

The Andrew Goodman Foundation

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

In 1966, Robert and Carolyn Goodman, Andrew’s parents, started The Andrew Goodman Foundation to carry on the spirit and purpose of their son’s life.

Their mission statement is: “We are witness to the rise of a diverse and connected new citizenry, one that can forever transform our society and our world for the better. Our ability to spark their passion — today — will result in change, tomorrow. Through Vote Everywhere, a national movement of student leaders and university administrators, we partner with America’s colleges and universities to create dynamic hubs of student participation.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Cox overruled

March 28, 1966: in U. S. vs. Price et al, the Supreme Court overruled Federal Judge Cox and reinstated the indictments.

October 7, 1967: trial in the case of United States versus Cecil Price et al. began in the Meridian courtroom of Judge William Cox.  Chief Prosecutor John Doar and other government attorneys had reason to be concerned about Cox.  Cox, appointed as an effort to appease powerful Judiciary Committee Chairman (and former roommate of Cox at Ole Miss) Senator James Eastland, had been a constant source of problems for Justice Department lawyers (especially John Doar) who were seeking to enforce civil rights laws in Mississippi.  In one incident, Judge Cox referred to a group of African Americans set to testify in a voting rights case as “a bunch of chimpanzees.”

A jury of seven white men and five white women, ranging in ages from 34 to 67, was selected. Defense attorneys exercised peremptory challenges against all seventeen potential black jurors.  A white man, who admitted under questioning by Robert Hauberg, the U.S. Attorney for Mississippi, that he had been a member of the KKK “a couple of years ago,” was challenged for cause.  Judge Cox denied the challenge.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Convictions

October 20, 1967: the all-white jury convicted seven conspirators [Cecil Price, Samuel Bowers, Alton Wayne Roberts, Jimmy Snowden, Billy Wayne Posey, Horace Barnett, and Jimmy Arledge]  and acquitted eight others.

For three men, including Edgar Rice Killen, the trial ended in a hung jury, with the jurors deadlocked 11–1 in favor of conviction. The lone holdout said that she could not convict a preacher. The prosecution decided not to retry Killen and he was released. None of the men found guilty would serve more than six years in prison.

December 29, 1967: Judge Cox imposed sentences.  Roberts and Bowers got ten years, Posey and Price got six years, and the other three convicted defendants got four.  Cox said of his sentences, “They killed one nigger, one Jew, and a white man– I gave them all what I thought they deserved.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Movie 

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

December 2, 1988: release of Mississippi Burning film. Chris Gerolmo wrote the story and Alan Parker directed it. It was loosely based on FBI’s investigation of the Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner murders.

A Wikipedia entry states: “Following its release, Mississippi Burning became embroiled in controversy over its fictionalization of events; it was heavily criticized by African-American activists who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the families of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., boycotted the film, stating, “How long will we have to wait before Hollywood finds the courage and the integrity to tell the stories of some of the many thousands of black men, women and children who put their lives on the line for equality?” Myrlie Evers-Williams, the wife of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, said of the film, “It was unfortunate that it was so narrow in scope that it did not show one black role model that today’s youth who look at the movie could remember.”

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Price dies

May 6, 2001: Cecil R. Price, who as a deputy sheriff arrested the three civil rights workers and was eventually found guilty of delivering them into the hands of their killers, died  in Jackson, Miss. He was 63.

The cause was a recent skull fracture that Price, a truck driver, suffered when he fell from a lift at an equipment rental store in Philadelphia, Miss. He died at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the same hospital where in 1964 he helped to transport the bodies of the three victims for autopsies. (NYT article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killen re-tried

January 6, 2005: the State of Mississippi charged Killen (now 79-years-old) with the murders.  Police arrested Killen at his home following a grand jury session, according to Neshoba County Sheriff Larry Myers.  Convicted Klan conspirator Billy Wayne Posey expressed anger at Killen’s arrest: “After 40 years to come back and do something like this is ridiculous…like a nightmare.”  Carolyn Goodman, the 89-year-old mother of victim Andrew Goodman was pleased with the news.  She hoped the killers would someday be “behind bars and think about what they’ve done.” (NYT article)

June 21, 2005: a jury found Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman, guilty of manslaughter 41 years to the day of the murders. (NYT article)

June 23, 2005: Edgar Ray Killen was sentenced to 60 years in prison. (NYT article)

August 12, 2005: Judge Marcus Gordon of Circuit Court granted bail to Edgar Ray Killen pending an appeal. The release raised the possibility that Killen, 80 and in poor health, wouldl die a free man after serving barely six weeks of his sentence. Gordon said he he had little choice but to set bond while Mr. Killen appealed his conviction since the state had not proved that Mr. Killen, who uses a wheelchair, was a flight risk or threat. (NYT article)

September 9, 2005: judge Marcus Gordon sent Killen back to prison saying Killen had deceived the court about his health when he asked to be released on bond. The hearing was called after Mr. Killen, who was granted bail after testifying that he was confined to a wheelchair, was seen up and walking by sheriff’s deputies. (NYT article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Story continues

July 14, 2006: Mississippi Circuit Court judge Marcus D. Gordon refused to let Killen out of prison while he appealed his conviction. Killen, 81, had asked to be freed on bond because of poor health. (NYT article)

April 13, 2007: the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the manslaughter convictions of Edgar Ray Killen.

In his appeal, Killen had argued that in the 1960s he would not have been convicted by a jury of his peers of any crime under the evidence presented in 2005. (NYT article)

August 13, 2009: 73-year-old Billy Wayne Posey died.  In a 2000 statement, Posey had told investigators there were “a lot of persons involved in the murders that did not go to jail.”

He did not name those people. (NMissCommentator article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killen continues to appeal

February 25, 2010: Killen filed a federal lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages and a declaration that the FBI violated his rights  when it allegedly used a gangster during its investigation. Killen claimed the FBI conspired to suppress his rights to “defend his society and culture.” (NYT article)

October 15, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court said it would consider arguments from  Killen who  said he was denied constitutional rights in his Mississippi trial, the same argument he had made in 2012. The Mississippi attorney general’s office said that it had notified the Supreme Court that no response to Killen’s petition would be filed.

November 4, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Killen’s appeal. The decision meant that the justices would not review lower-court rulings that had found no violations of Killen’s constitutional rights during his trial in Mississippi.

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Supreme Court denial

January 4, 2014: Edgar Ray Killen, convicted in 2005 for the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to look again at his motion for a new trial.

January 13, 2014: the U.S. Supreme Court denied the rehearing request. The justices issued the order without comment.

November 10, 2014: President Barack Obama announced 19 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

He presented those awards on November 24 to family members of the three men. In his remarks, the President said:

From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world,” he said.

Here is the link to the video of the presentation. Slide up to the 21 minute 40 second mark to hear President Obama’s remarks on the three murdered civil rights workers and to 29:20 for the actual presentations:

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killen interviewed

December 22, 2014: the Associated Press interviewed Edgar Ray Killen inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary, his first interview since his 2005 conviction. He refused to discuss the “Freedom Summer” slayings. He said he remained a segregationist who does not believe in race equality but contends he bears no ill will toward blacks.

Killen had first contacted an AP reporter 18 months ago. In his first letter on March 3, 2013, he made clear that no conversation with a reporter would result in a confession.

“That is not where I am coming from after 50 years of silence,” Killen wrote. “I have never discussed the 1964 case with anyone — an attorney, the FBI, local law nor friend — and those who say so are lying.” (The Times-Picayunne article)

Chaney Goodman Schwerner murdered

Story ends

May 26, 2016: retired Circuit Judge Marcus D. Gordon died. Gordon had sentenced Edgar Ray Killen to life in prison in 2005 Gordon had retired on March 4, 2016, from the Eighth District Circuit Court. (NYT obit)

June 21, 2016: Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced an end to the active federal and state investigation into the 1964 killings.

There’s nothing else that can be done,” he said in a news conference. “The FBI, my office and other law enforcement agencies have spent decades chasing leads, searching for evidence and fighting for justice for the three young men who were senselessly murdered on June 21, 1964,” he said. “It has been a thorough and complete investigation. I am convinced that during the last 52 years, investigators have done everything possible under the law to find those responsible and hold them accountable; however, We have determined that there is no likelihood of any additional convictions. Absent any new information presented to the FBI or my office, this case will be closed.”  (Clarion-Ledger article and video)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

Killer dies in prison

January 11, 2018: Edgar Ray Killen, the former Klansman who was sentenced to a 60-year prison term in 2005 for arranging the murders of three young civil rights workers outside Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964 during the Freedom Summer drive to register Southern black voters, died in prison in Parchman, Miss. He was 92. (BBC news article)

KKK Murders Chaney Goodman Schwerner

 

Please follow and like us:

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

What’s a Vietnam?

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

For most Americans, the Vietnam War was not something that suddenly became part of their consciousness, but something that seeped into it.

On June 11, 1963 the Gulf of Tonkin “attacks” were 418 days away. And of course we didn’t know that President Kennedy’s assassination was 164 days away.

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

Thích Quảng Đức

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

On June 11, 1963, Thích Quảng Đức became part of our lives when he burned himself to death in protest of the South Vietnamese government’s treatment of Buddhists.  He’d written beforhand:

“[I] respectfully plead to President Ngô Đình Diệm to take a mind of compassion towards the people of the nation and implement religious equality to maintain the strength of the homeland eternally.”

The media called his action a self-immolation. I knew it meant to burn oneself to death, which it does and doesn’t. It specifically means “”a sacrificing, sacrificial killing,” but immolation is a much softer-sounding word than burning to death.

South Vietnam’s government saw the immolation, and the several that would follow in that country, as stunts. [see Thich for more]

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

How could they?

For a white Christian American like me, it was confusing. After all, what could be worse than the thought of burning to death? Parents had raised their Baby Boomers with the threat of burning in Hell for an eternity as punishment for one’s sins.

It didn’t occur to us that an eternal punishment (billions of years wasn’t even a beginning!) was incongruous when compared to the perhaps 80 year life expectancy we might have.

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

American Immolations

Yet as familiar as we Boomers may be with the picture of Thích Quảng Đức self-sacrifice, it comes as a surprise to find out that there were several Americans who did the same in protest of the Vietnam War.

Unfortunately, for some of those on this list, not much is known despite their sacrifice.

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

March 16, 1965: Alice Herz

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

Alice Herz had been born in Germany in 1882. A widow in 1933 and anticipating the increasing horrors that Nazism was about to inflict on Jews and other minorities, she left there with her daughter Helga for France .  Alice and Helga got caught up in the Nazi invasion of France, but successfully escaped to the United States in 1942.

An opponent of war in general and the Vietnam war specifically, Alice Herz marched, protested, and wrote letters and articles expressing that opinion.

Frustrated with the peace movement’s lack of progress and the government’s seeming disregard for the movement’s view, Alice Herz decided to follow the example of Thích Quảng Đức.

She died on March  26, 1965 from the injuries. Alice Herz was 82. (NYT article)

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

 October 12, 1965: Hiroko Hayasaki

Hiroko Hayasaki was a 36-year old Japanese-American Buddhist who immolated herself in San Diego, California.

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

November 2, 1965: Norman Morrison

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

Norman Morrison was born in Erie, Pennsylvania and was married with two daughters and a son in Baltimore in 1965.  He set himself on fire below the Pentagon office window of Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense.

In a letter he mailed to his wife Anne, he wrote, “Know that I love thee … but I must go to help the children of the priest’s village”. McNamara described Morrison’s death as “a tragedy not only for his family but also for me and the country. It was an outcry against the killing that was destroying the lives of so many Vietnamese and American youth.” (NYT)

Morrison died that day. He was 31.

Five days after Morrison died, Vietnamese poet Tố Hữu wrote a poem, “Emily, My Child”,

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

Ê-mi-ly, con (Emily, Child) – by Tố Hữu (1965)

Ê mi-ly, con đi cùng cha

Sau khôn lớn con thuộc đường, khỏi lạc…

Đi đâu cha?
Ra bờ sông Pô-tô-mác
Xem gì cha? 
Không con ơi, chỉ có Lầu ngũ giác.

Ôi con tôi, đôi mắt tròn xoe

Ôi con tôi, mái tóc vàng hoe

Đừng có hỏi cha nhiều con nhé!

Cha bế con đi, tối con về với mẹ…

Emily, come with me

Later you’ll grow up you’ll know the streets, no longer feel lost.

Where are we going, dad?

To the banks of the Potomac

To see what, dad?

Nothing my child, there’s just the Pentagon.

Oh my child, your round eyes

Oh my child, your locks so golden

Don’t ask your father so many questions, dear!

I’ll carry you out, this evening you’ll going home with your mother…

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

November 9, 1965: Roger Allen LaPorte

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

A week later, Roger Allen LaPorte, set himself on fire in front of the United Nations Building in New York City. He was a member of the Catholic Workers Movement–founded by Dorothy Day an dPeter Maurin in 1933–an organization that has, as one of its guiding principles, “hospitality toward those on the margin of society.”

LaPorte had attended an antiwar demonstration on November 6 at which Day spoke and said, in part, “ “I speak today as one who is old, and who must endorse the courage of the young who themselves are willing to give up their freedom… This very struggle was begun by courage, even in martyrdom, which has been shared by the little children, in the struggle for full freedom and human dignity.”

LaPorte survived for one day and was conscious. When asked why, he responded, ““I’m a Catholic Worker. I’m against war, all wars. I did this as a religious action…all the hatred of the world.”

LaPorte was  22. (NYT)

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

Celene Jankowski

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

24-year-old Celene Jankowski had just given birth to a daughter three months before. The daughter had died  on October 28 and the death left the mother “despondent” — what today doctors would likely diagnosed as Postpartum Depression & Anxiety.

Bert John Nowakowski, Jr, one of Jankowski’s brothers had died in the Korean war.

The week before, Richard Jankowski, Celene’s husband, reported that Celene suggested they both burn themselves to death, that “all the world’s problems are my problems.”

He had rejected the idea and she stopped speaking about it, so Mr Jankowski assumed she was past the notion. Celene Jankowski had not put any accelerant on herself beforehand and her screaming brought a neighbor who smothered the flames with a blanket. (NYT)

She survived.

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

October 15, 1967: Florence Beaumont

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

From the INSROLAND–lost lore of the historic core site:

“Late on Sunday morning, Florence Beaumont, 56-year-old former English teacher, Unitarian peace activist and mother of two, gathered a selection of literature pertaining to her activities in the anti-Vietnam war movement, climbed into her pickup truck with its Peace and Freedom Party bumper sticker and drove from her home in La Puente to downtown Los Angeles.

“At 1:05 pm, after climbing the steps of the new Federal Building, Florence poured most of a can of gasoline over herself, put the can down on a wall and lit a match. She immediately erupted in flames, let out a cry, and walked about 40 feet before collapsing, an unrecognizable charred mass. Over by the gas can was her purse, with a card taped to the front which read “Hello, I’m Florence Beaumont.”

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

“Federal Building guard Ben Brown heard a scream, ran outside and saw the woman in flames. He returned to his post for a fire extinguisher, but arrived too late to help her. Retiree John Osberg was sunning himself on the steps nearby and heard a moan, looking up to see Florence burning and walking along the veranda. ‘There were flames all over her. She didn’t say anything, she just moaned. She was burning from head to foot.

“Two nights earlier, Florence had told a friend, Ada Pettigrove, that she had been thinking of immolating herself. Ada told her not to talk like that, and put off mentioning the conversation to Florence’s husband George because she had to leave for San Diego to retrieve a lost dog. ‘I really didn’t think she would carry it out. I guess I really didn’t know her that well.‘”

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

December 4, 1967: Erik Thoen

Erik Thoen was a student of Zen Buddhism

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

March 19, 1968: Ronald Brazee

From a 2015 piece on the Syracuse NEWTIMES site:

On a chilly March day in 1968, a woman walked into the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Syracuse. The magnificent Gothic Revival structure was quiet and peaceful. She thought she was alone, but soon saw a teenager standing near the altar.

Sixteen year-old Ronald Brazee had thought he too was alone, and quickly exited through the side door, leaving his coat and a metal gasoline can behind.

Outside, he asked a man if he could spare a match.

Brazee’s quick departure probably seemed strange to the woman, but then again a lot of things seemed strange in 1968. Above everything else, the American war in Vietnam had become the focal point of world-wide protest against authority of all kinds.

Ron, or “Ronnie,” was the second of eight children of Hugh and Elaine Brazee. “We weren’t dirt poor, but we were barely three rungs above it,” says software engineer Michael Brazee, the fourth oldest of the siblings.

The day that Ron died, he skipped school and hitchhiked from Auburn to Syracuse with his cousin. Mike isn’t troubled that they played hooky, “It shows that he was a regular kid,” Mike says. “We used to hitchhike sometimes, it was more normal then.”

At one point the cousins split up and “sometime after 2 p.m.,” Ron walked into a gas station. The clerk refused to fill his plastic container so he returned with a proper metal gas can. He then went to the Cathedral and once inside, poured the gasoline over his body. When Catherine O’Connell entered, he fled. He quickly made his way around the building to the front of the Cathedral and asked Joseph Madden, of Solvay, for a light. The elderly man told the Syracuse Post-Standard, “I gave him a match and he lit it and went up in flames and ran ahead.”

“Other passersby, including Charles Fahey, director of Catholic Charities, and Harry Honan, former deputy county executive, ran after the blazing youth, tore off their coats and used them to cover the flames,” the same article reported.

Ron had almost no chance of making it out of the hospital, as he suffered burns over 90% of his body. Not many people could visit him because of the severity of his wounds…

Ronald Brazee died on April 27, [1968] of pneumonia. There was no public vigil after his death….

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

May 30, 1969: Bruce Mayrock 

Bruce Mayrock died sacrificing himself for others. In this case he wanted to bring attention to the starving people of Biafra, an unrecognized country in West Africa from 1967 to 1970, made up of the states in the Eastern Region of Nigeria.

In 2016, the widow of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu [a Nigerian military officer and politician who served as the military governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1966 and  was the leader of the breakaway Republic of Biafra from 1967 to 1970.] spoke of her husband’s final wishes.

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

A Widow’s Story

From the EduJandon.com site [She said] “…his body must be taken to Aba, Abia state before burial, erecting a monument in memory of a 19 year old American, Bruce Mayrock who died for Biafra…”

She continued

“He told me that this young boy was 19 years old, a white American and University student who came from a wealthy family. During the Biafra war, Mayrock was too disturbed about the pictures of starving Biafran children and the genocide. He wrote letters to American senators and President, individuals, Christian organizations and the United Nations calling on them to come to the aid of the Biafran people. Mayrock lamented that the Biafrans were facing extermination.

“All these people even the United Nations could not do anything. To bring attention to the plight of suffering Biafrans, this boy went to the front of the United Nations building doused himself with gasoline, struck a match and set himself on fire. When they were chasing him to put away the fire he was running with the inferno. He ran until he collapsed. He was taken to the hospital and by midnight on 30th May 1966, he died. Ojukwu was humbled that a 19 year old boy sacrificed his life for a people thousand miles away that he never knew or met.

Bruce Mayrock taken away by UN after setting himself ablaze

“His parents were unhappy that he sacrificed himself but he had told his priest that it was the only way he could get attention from the United Nation to take notice and save dying Biafra people.

“Ojukwu demanded that when he is dead, the story be narrated to his children and when his son turns 19, that a little plot of land be gotten to erect a monument in honour of Bruce Mayrock who sacrificed his life for the people of Biafra. Today in America, many Igbo people regularly visit Mayrock’s grave to lay flowers and pray for him.”

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War
Mount Ararat Cemetery, East Farmingdale, NY
American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

May 10, 1970: George Winne Jr

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

George Winne Jr. was 23 and a student at the University of California, San Diego. In protest of the  US involvement in the Vietnam war, set himself on fire.

From the  University of California. San Diego Triton site:

Winne was standing in the the northeast corner of the plaza by Ridge Walk, covered in towels and holding a sign that read, “In the name of God, end the war.” A physics graduate student named Ralph J. Archuleta passed by Winne while he was dousing himself in gasoline. “I thought it was water and that he was just trying to cool himself off,” Archuleta said. He kept walking.

Then Winne set himself on fire.

Witnesses, many of whom watched in horror from their dorm room windows, said that he ran diagonally across the quad to the southwest side, all the while clutching the sign and screaming, “Stop the war! Stop the war!”

A group of student activists were meeting in the Blake Hall Commuter Lounge when they heard the screams. Keith Stowe, a graduate student, was the first to reach Winne. “I grabbed him by the ankles and tackled him to the ground,” he said. “I rolled over him, thinking it would put out the flames. It didn’t help.”

After murmuring the Lord’s Prayer under his breath for nine hours, Winne passed away early the following morning.

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

21st Century

April 14, 2017: David Buckel

From a NYT articleA lawyer nationally known for being a champion of gay rights died after setting himself on fire in Prospect Park in Brooklyn early Saturday morning and leaving a note exhorting people to lead less selfish lives as a way to protect the planet, the police said.

The remains of the lawyer, David S. Buckel, 60, were found near Prospect Park West in a field near baseball diamonds and the main loop used by joggers and bikers.

Mr. Buckel left a note in a shopping cart not far from his body and also emailed it to several news media outlets, including The New York Times.

Mr. Buckel was the lead attorney in Brandon v. County of Richardson, in which a Nebraska county sheriff was found liable for failing to protect Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Falls City, Neb. Hilary Swank won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Mr. Teena in the 1999 movie “Boys Don’t Cry.”

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War

John Michael Watts, 58,  an Air Force veteran upset with the Department of Veterans Affairs set himself on fire outside the state Capitol in Atlanta. EMT took him to Grady Memorial Hospital in critical condition with burns on 85 to 90 percent of his body. [NYT story]

American Protest Immolations Vietnam War
Please follow and like us:

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

August 1, 2, and 3, 1969
Fuller Flatlands, MI
1969 festival #24
1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Whites and the Blues

With civil rights and anti-establishment sentiments in the air, there were  numbers of white kids searching outside the popular top-10 musical box.  Of course they’d already heard Brits  Eric Burdon, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and John Mayall’s interpretations of American Blues, but eventually and not surprisingly, those same white kids “discovered” what had been in front of them all along: true Blues.

University of Michigan sophomore John Fishel was one of those white kids. Bert Stratton was another. He said, “…in those days to like the blues was to be part of an exclusive, rebellious club. It was like a secret language. If you were a young white kid who was into the black blues you thought you were pretty cool.”

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

University backed

A group of University of Michigan students  led by Fishel decided to hold a Blues festival.

Quoted in a 2009 Ann Arbor Chronicle article, Fishel said, ““Somebody put me in touch with one or two people. It ended up with maybe four or five of us getting together. Some of us knew each other, some didn’t. We really didn’t have a concept at the time. We didn’t know whether it would be a series or a one-shot deal. We didn’t know whether it was an inside show in an auditorium, or whether it was an outdoor show. But I agreed to do the entertainment part of it.”

The group asked their school for sponsorship and two university-connected nonprofit entities – the University Activities Center (UAC), and Canterbury House, the student Episcopalian organization – put up $70,000 for the event.

The kids did good!

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Chicago

That spring the group visited Chicago to test the waters: what true blues performers attracted the best crowds? Luther Allison was one they found.

They invited Allison to play at a free show in April and the reception was great. The group knew they could continue.

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Ann Arbor, the Not-Woodstock

According to a 2018 Forbes article, “When Ann Arbor Blues Festival opened in 1969, it wasn’t just the first blues festival in Michigan — it was the first blues festival ever.”

As a Woodstock alum, it is hard to criticize what so many think of as the greatest festival of all time.  History and commercialism have  ways of distorting reality when reality is mostly a subjective,  not a single unequivocal experience.

Woodstock, for all its outstanding and now-historic performers and performances, lacked true blues. Ten Years After, Paul Butterfield, Canned Heat, and Blood Sweat and Tears all provided their interpretation of original Blues.

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Ann Arbor Line up

August 1, Friday Night

  • Roosevelt Sykes
  • Fred McDowell
  • JB Hutto and the Hawks
  • Jimmy Dawkings
  • Junior Wells
  • BB King

August 3, Sunday afternoon

  • Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup
  • Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins
  • Roosevelt Sykes
  • Luther Allison & the Blue
  • Nebulae
  • Big Joe Williams
  • Magic Sam
  • Big Mama Thornton
  • Freddy King

August 2, Saturday night

  • Sleepy John Estes
  • Luther Allison
  • Clifton Chenier
  • Otis Rush
  • Howlin’ Wolf
  • Muddy Waters

August 3, Sunday night

  • Sam Lay
  • T-Bone Walker
  • Son House
  • Charlie Musselwhite w Freddy Roulette
  • Lightnin’ Hopkins
  • James Cotton

 

Unlike the half-million who camped in Bethel, NY, the Ann Arbor Blues Festival had about 20,000, but 20,000 very enthusiastic listeners. Dan Morgenstern wrote in Downbeat that “the performers – especially the veterans – were treated with respect that bordered on reverence. It added up to a kind of recognition that blues artists have seldom, if ever, received from their own people.

In October, after Woodstock, Morgenstern was clear.  The Ann Arbor Festival was “without doubt the festival of the year, if not the decade.”

Stanley Livingston, a professional photographer from Ann Arbor, captured the performers both on- and off-stage. He and Michael Erlewine later published many of his photos in  Blues in Black and White

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Ann Arbor 2

In 1970 a second blues festival was held, but success led to disruption and disruption led to financial loss.  Also, the Goose Lake festival held the same time had a big-name line up that pulled possible guests away from Ann Arbor.

The festival went away for two years, returned in 1972 to a three-year run, and then went away again.

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival

Renewal

In 2016, James Partridge realized that in three years it would be the original festival’s 50th anniversary.  In 2017 he organized a new Ann Arbor Blues Festival.

Today,  Partridge, the Festival’s executive producer, says, “I want everybody to know what Ann Arbor has contributed to music and recognize that the Ann Arbor Blues Festivals, they changed music. They changed history. Had it not been for those original festivals, a lot of the music we listen to today might not have been made.”

The 2018 festival will be on August 17 and 18 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Fairgrounds

1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival
Please follow and like us: