PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi historical marker has been placed at the old Neshoba County jail site in Philadelphia where three civil rights workers were held hours before they were ambushed and killed by Ku Klux Klansmen in 1964.
The Neshoba Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/11aj3bw) that the Neshoba County Historical Commission sponsored the project and raised money for the marker.
Civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were in Neshoba County on June 21, 1964, registering black people to vote and investigating the burning of Mt. Zion Church, which occurred five days earlier.
The trio was stopped for speeding and held for several hours in the Neshoba County jail, then mobbed by Klansmen after their release. They were shot to death, and their bodies were found 44 days later, buried in an earthen dam in another part of the county.
The FBI referred to the case as "Mississippi Burning." Reputed Klansman Edgar Ray Killen was convicted on three counts of manslaughter in 2005 and is serving a 60-year prison sentence.
Historians also say Ralph Abernathy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made a stop at the jail on June 21, 1966, while leading a voter registration march that included a stop at the courthouse.
The state Department of Archives and History said historical markers are privately sponsored and funded. Groups submit applications to the department and the department approves them, including the wording on the signs. The local groups are in charge of placing the markers.
The department's landmarks coordinator Swayze Pentecost said the old jail is a contributing building in a National Register District.
"Often there are buildings altered or torn down," Pentecost said. "The National Parks Service recognized the jail as a historic building in the Downtown Philadelphia National Register District."
The jail was built in 1955 and remained in use until 1978.
Currently, the jail is the meeting place for the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's, fraternal organization known for its various charitable works.