3 slain civil rights workers to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom


(JTA) — Three civil rights workers killed in Mississippi in 1964 while registering black voters will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom 50 years after their deaths.

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner are among 19 recipients of the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States. President Obama will present the awards at the White House on Nov. 24.

The three young men were shot by members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at the beginning of Freedom Summer, a historic voter registration drive in which hundreds of people worked to register blacks to vote.

Chaney was African-American; Goodman and Schwerner were Jewish.

Other Jewish recipients of this year’s medals include Abner Mikva, Robert Solow and Stephen Sondheim.

Mikva, a former federal judge and Illinois congressman, mentored Obama as a young lawyer and often made Obama’s case to the Jewish community after he launched his political career. He also served as White House counsel for President Bill Clinton.

Solow received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1987. His research in the 1950s through the 1970s transformed the field, laying the groundwork for much of modern economics.

Sondheim, one of the country’s most influential theater composers and lyricists, has won eight Grammy Awards, eight Tony Awards, an Academy Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

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