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Groundbreaking for NAACP/Miami Freedom Summer memorial
A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, for a memorial on Miami University's campus to three slain civil rights activists.
Miami and Oxford NAACP officials said the memorial-an outdoor amphitheater classroom-will symbolize the community's and university's commitment to the ideals of James Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24, who were murdered while on a campaign to register black voters in the south.
The three civil rights workers were among 800 activists and volunteers who 35 years ago converged on Oxford's Western College for Women for training before heading South to register blacks as part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. Their murders inspired the movie "Mississippi Burning."
The three young men-two white New Yorkers and one black Mississippian-left Oxford June 20, 1964. They disappeared the next day after stopping in Neshoba County, Miss., to visit members of a burned-out black church. Arrested for speeding by the sheriff's department and held several hours until dark, the trio was never heard from again. Six weeks later their bodies were found buried in an earthen dam.
Arthur Miller, longtime Oxford NAACP member and one of 60 community volunteers who supported the civil rights volunteers, said the memorial fulfills a dream of many in the community. It's important, he said, for young people to know the sacrifices of those who fought for a fairer, more just society.
Miami President James C. Garland said the memorial will be a permanent reminder of the ideals and dedication of not only the three slain activists but also all those participating in the historic civil rights summer project.
The site chosen is a natural hillside near Kumler Chapel on Miami's Western campus, just across the street from Peabody Hall, where many of the volunteers lived and trained.
An Ohio Bicentennial Commission historic marker will be placed at the site, thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Longaberger Co.'s Legacy Initiative.
The public is invited to the groundbreaking.