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Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965$
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Davis W. Houck and David E. Dixon

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781604731071

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604731071.001.0001

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Rita L. Schwerner

Rita L. Schwerner

July 29, 1964, Deposition, Hinds County, Mississippi

(p.263) Rita L. Schwerner
Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965

Davis W. Houck

David E. Dixon

University Press of Mississippi

Born in March 1943 in Mt. Vernon, New York, Rita Levant Schwerner was a civil rights activist who began her college education at the University of Michigan and graduated from Queens College in January 1964. She and husband Michael Schwerner, a fellow activist, began their work together in New York City, where they received brief sentences for picketing a Manhattan building in which blacks were not allowed. The couple also worked for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) as Mississippi field officers in January 1964. That same year, Schwerner, along with CORE volunteers Andrew Goodman and James E. Chaney, were murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. On July 29, 1964, Rita Schwerner made a deposition in Hinds County, Mississippi. This chapter presents Schwerner’s deposition, in which she recounted the events leading up to the disappearance of her husband and his two companions. She also described the systematic psychological torture and social ostracism experienced by civil rights workers in 1964. A year later, Rita Schwerner would testify against “Preacher” Killen, one of her husband’s killers.

Keywords:   deposition, Rita Levant Schwerner, civil rights, Michael Schwerner, New York City, blacks, Congress of Racial Equality, Mississippi, Ku Klux Klan, Hinds County

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