Mississippi, a state notorious for the number of lynchings during the Civil Rights Era, is considering naming its new FBI headquarters after three of its most famous victims of racial hatred.
In June 1964, civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were killed in Philadelphia, Miss., while participating in the Freedom Summer voter registration drive, aimed at expanding voting rights for Black citizens.
The FBI search for the missing workers, which inspired the movie “Mississippi Burning,” gained national attention and served as a major impetus behind passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and Civil Rights Act of 1965.
"Given our state and its history, it would do a lot to show that Mississippi has changed," said Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. "I think it's an excellent idea and one that I would support."
If the Jackson City Council follows the lead of Hinds County Board of Supervisors and votes in favor of the naming, "it could send a signal to the rest of the nation that we at least understand some of the things that have happened in the past and realize that this is in tune of correcting some of the negatives back then," Supervisor George Smith told The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger.
The ultimate decision, however, rests with Congress, according to FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden, who said the agency is leasing the building from the city.
Angela Lewis, Chaney's daughter, said naming the building after the trio would be "a very nice gesture" that could contribute to a better understanding of the era.