3 Boys Vanish on June 21, 1964

by John Zajaros on June 21, 2012

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner Disappear: June 21, 1964
On this day, 48 years ago, 3 boys, civil rights workers from the North, vanished. June 21, 1964 in Philadelphia, Miss.

Found in an earthen dam, their deaths shocked the nation. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, better known by his initials, LBJ, and often vilified for his role in escalating the Vietnam War, a war that cost him the Presidency, moved as no US President had before, at least not since Lincoln, to change the cultural and political landscape of the United States.

While LBJ’s Great Society was largely a failure, Johnson’s imprint on history is significant.

LBJ was the consummate politician; and, he was in a position to do what very few others could have…largely as a consequence of the shear political power he had garnered over his lifetime.

LBJ, Martin Luther King Jr, J. Edgar Hoover (Hoover by way of brute force), and so many others moved to galvanize a nation appalled by what was happening throughout the South.

There are all kinds of explanations and arguments for why the murder of those particular boys pushed the country beyond the tipping point.

But the fact remains, those 3 boys, 4 little girls, and far too many others to list here gave their lives so the citizens of the United States would wake up and our leaders would do what, up until then, they had not been willing to do.

For almost one hundred years, the United States remained in something of a fixed state, at least as far as the civil rights of African-Americans were concerned…

…and at least not with the kind of commitment that followed the death of 3 very brave boys who set out to change the world.

And now, when we look back through the lens of hindsight, when we look back upon June 21, 1964, I think we can safely say that, in a very real sense, they did!

3 boys, 4 little girls, hundreds and hundreds of others, and one the greatest men of our age, certainly one of the bravest, died so others could have, would have, what others had only dared to dream of until then.

I wonder what they would think today?

I wonder if Dr. King would consider his life, and the lives of so many others, a worthy sacrifice? Lives well spent.

Would Martin Luther King, Jr. appreciate what he’d see 48 years later, in the year 2012?

I wonder!

I believe he would say we still have miles to go before we sleep…and he’d be right!

On June 21, 1964, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner vanished from the face of the Earth and, as a consequence, played an important role in changing the United States in a way they could only have dreamed of on that first day of summer in the year of Our Lord, 1964.

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