March 6, 2014

Proposed Memorial Would Honor Civil Rights Activists

Print More

By ALISHA FOSTER

The Student Assembly voiced their support Thursday for the construction of an outdoor memorial for three young men — including one who attended Cornell — killed by the Ku Klux Klan 50 years ago.

Current plans are for the memorial to be built in front of Anabel Taylor Hall.

Michael Schwerner ’61, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were killed on June 21, 1964 while registering black voters in Mississippi. All three were active participants during the Civil Rights Movement and worked diligently for civil rights across racial, religious, and regional lines.

“[It’s] not just the historical remembrance and the cultural challenge about service, but also how inspiring this is that they reached across race, religion and region to try to work together to do something positive.” — Bill Schechter ’68

Project Coordinator Bill Schechter ’68 said the memorial should be a source of pride for Cornell.

“Now we want them to stand together on this campus,” he said.

Professor Salah Hassan, history of art, interim director of the Africana Center, said his department fully supported building the memorial.

“Of course the project [has] our full support in Africana and [we] will do anything to help facilitate it,” he said.

A petition for the project secured over300 student signatures. Fifteen organizations — including Cornell Hillel and the Multicultural Greek Letter Council — have already expressed their support, according to Schechter.

“[It’s] not just the historical remembrance and the cultural challenge about service, but also how inspiring this is that they reached across race, religion and region to try to work together to do something positive,” Schechter said.

Schechter said he thought the three young men were on “the right side of history.”

“In the case of the [men,] what’s a more defining contribution to a democratic society than to make sure that everyone has the right to vote?”

The memorial will supplement a stained-glass window in Sage Chapel that Schwerner’s own graduating class dedicated to the three young men in 1991.

There will be a public meeting regarding the proposal at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Africana Center.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *