|Birth: ||Sep. 4, 1921|
|Death: ||May 22, 2007|
Mother of James Earl Chaney. Nearly two years after she saw the Klansman who orchestrated her son's killing convicted, Fannie Lee Chaney has died.
The 84-year-old mother of James Chaney, one of three civil rights workers killed by the Klan in 1964 in Neshoba County.
Amid death threats, she moved to New Jersey after her son's death.
In 1989, she returned, and then-Secretary of State Dick Molpus, a native of Philadelphia, spoke to her and other family members, apologizing for what happened to her son and his friends.
"She presented to the world a gentle and kind demeanor, but in her eyes I could see great courage born out of her personal tragedy," Molpus said. "She and her son, James, will always have a place in Mississippi history."
In 2005, the 82-year-old mother of five returned from New Jersey to testify in the Neshoba County trial of Edgar Ray Killen.
Clutching her daughter's arm with one hand and her cane with the other, she took small unsteady steps to the witness stand.
But there was nothing unsteady about her memory about the events leading to the June 21, 1964, killings of her son and his friends, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.
After the death of James, Mrs Chaney left Mississippi after threats were made against her,including to dynamite her home and another to put her in a hole like James was.
On June 21, 2005 - the 41st anniversary of the deaths - a jury convicted Killen of orchestrating the trio's killings. Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon sentenced Killen to 60 years in prison, or 20 years for each of his three manslaughter convictions.
"Mrs. Chaney was a kind person and a loving mother," said Schwerner's widow, Rita Bender. "She understood the importance of her son J.E.'s movement work, while fearing for the danger. She should not have had to wait 41 years for the state of Mississippi to acknowledge his murder and some responsibility for it."
Goodman's brother, David, said all the families "have collectively kept the story of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner alive so that all of us can learn from the past and continue the struggle for our human dignity and civil rights in our nation and world today."
she'll be buried beside her son at her request.
His marker bears these words: "There are those who are alive, yet will never live; those who are dead, yet will live forever. Great deeds inspire and encourage the living.
James Earl Chaney (1943 - 1964)*
Maintained by: Gwen Langley Pittman
Originally Created by: Patricia Langley Harvey
Record added: May 23, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 19502052