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Podcast: Interview with Ben Chaney

Ben Chaney, younger brother of slain civil rights worker James Chaney, was one of my interview subjects for my recent article in The American Prospect, "Belated Justice for Civil Rights Era Crimes." I spoke with Ben over the phone on June 4, 2007, two days after his mother Fannie Lee Chaney was buried next to her eldest son in Meridian, MS. Fannie Lee Chaney passed away on May 22, 2007. Unfortunately the quotes from our conversation were cut as the editor at The American Prospect helped me narrow the focus of the article. I am therefore posting this podcast of the full ten minute interview. In the interview, Ben Chaney discusses the importance of belated prosecutions of suspects in Civil Rights era crimes, the limitations of such prosecutions, how to hold government accountable for its role in crimes against Blacks and their allies and his mother's disappointment over the incomplete justice for her murdered son.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • will i am February 3, 2009, 1:50 am

    Ben Chaney discusses the importance of belated prosecutions of suspects in Civil Rights era crimes ————- thanks for this…

  • joshua June 21, 2009, 1:43 pm

    thanks for posting this interview, ben. i had several phone conversations with ben chaney jr. back in 1994. i admire his steadfast dedication to properly memorializing his brother, andrew and mickey. his efforts at educating people about the history of that time should be supported and more people should know the stories of what happenned. it is an important part of american history.

  • joshua June 21, 2009, 2:23 pm

    today, june 21st, is the 45th anniversary of the three civil rights workers killed in mississipi during freedom summer in 1964. james chaney, andrew goodman, michael schwerner, one african american and two jewish americans were beaten and shot outside of philadelphia missippi, neshoba county. they were coming from investigating a fire at mt. zion church.

    the deaths of chaney, goodman and schwerner brought a different level of publicity to the civil rights/voting rights movement. in 1994 i had a number of phone conversations with james chaney's younger brother, ben chaney jr. i was hoping to attend the 30th anniversary in mississipi. although i didn't make it, it was very interesting and inspiring to speak to ben, whose whole life is dedicated to properly memorializing the three workers.

    i read an article about his 'freedom ride' voter registration tour in 2004
    and the challenges of educating people about the importance of this history. we live in very different times. when people were killed back then it was big news and really meant something. these young idealistic people represented the best of america. there are a number of books about 'freedom summer'.

    i hope that ben chaney jr. will make a documentary,( even begin a series on a youtube channel which could include footage from all his activities) about his life's efforts to tell the story and move the process forward so that justice will be served. the torah says: justice, justice shall you pursue. and the word for 'justice' also means righteousness.

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