By David Dennis, Jr.
My father knew James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner were dead as soon as he got the call that they were missing. Their bodies weren’t found until 44 days later. What happened between that phone call and the discovery of their bodies is a story that’s been bastardized by Hollywood, overlooked by those intent on ignoring America’s painful history and mired in misinformation. But anyone involved in the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi knows one undeniable truth: Dick Gregory’s heroic battle with the FBI is the reason those bodies were found.
As Mississippi director for the Congress of Racial Equality, my dad, David Dennis, Sr., sent Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner to Longdale, MS to investigate a bombing at the Mount Zion church. What my father didn’t know at the time, but is sure of to this day, is that the KKK perpetrated the bombing to lure the three workers out and kill them. The Klan also prioritized Mickey Schwerner as a target. The young, fiery organizer was a dynamo at rallying black people to register to vote. Schwerner offended the Klan most of all because he was white. A traitor. And he was Jewish. Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner never made it back home after going to investigate the bombing. They never stood a chance .