Carolyn Goodman, a clinical psychologist and civil rights advocate, died at age 91 at her Upper West Side home yesterday. Goodman's son Andrew and two other men, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney, were working to help blacks register to vote in the South in 1964 when they were killed by the KKK in Philadelphia, Missipppi. The murders later became the basis for the film Mississippi Burning, and the NY Times' obituary of Goodman explains the deaths also were "widely seen as helping inspire the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act the same year."
The NY Times spoke to Goodman's son David, who mentioned that his mother and father had a history of supporting social causes and political involvement.
In a telephone interview yesterday, her son David recounted a characteristic incident, which happened in 1999, during the public protest over the death of Amadou Diallo, the Guinean immigrant shot and killed by New York police officers. A colleague came into Mr. Goodman’s office to tell him that his mother had just been seen on television, being taken off to jail.
“I said, ‘Well, that happens from time to time,’ ” Mr. Goodman recalled.
Goodman also told the NY Times in a 2005 interview that when Andrew announced he wanted to help register voters in Mississippi, "It wasn’t easy for us. But we couldn’t talk out of both sides of our mouths. So I had to let him go.”
The men who shot and later buried Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner 15-feet underneath a dam were convicted of civil rights violations, but not murder. In 2005, Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood revisited the case and tried Edgar Ray Killen, considered the ringleader in the murders. Carolyn Goodman testified, as did Chaney's mother Fannie Lee, in the retrial, and Killen was ultimately convicted of manslaughter, but not murder. Fannie Lee Chaney died earlier this year.
Related: An American Psychologist Association article about Goodman and a 2002 article about Goodman her bond with NYC artist Robin Goodman (no relation) by Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. Mitchell's investigative work helped put Killen, as well as three other KKK members - Byron De La Beckwith who killed Medgar Evers, Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers who ordered the firebombing of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer and Bobby Cherry who bombed the Birmingham church which killed four girls - in jail.
Mitchell also wrote an obituary of Goodman for the Clarion-Ledger, and included this quote from former Mississippi Secretary of State Dick Molpus, "She had every reason to hate the people of our state, but just the opposite happened over the years. She and her son, David Goodman, were regular visitors here, and they both developed deep friendships and a genuine affection for the people of Neshoba County and Mississippi. Dr. Goodman exhibited as much grace toward those of us from here than anyone could imagine. There are many in Mississippi that join me in grieving at the passing of this extraordinary person." There is also a photo gallery of Goodman and the Mississippi Burning murders at the Clarion-Ledger.
Top photograph of a plaque remembering James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner at the corner of West 70th and Freedom Place; inset photograph of Goodman during a 2004 program on the 40th anniversary of her son's, Chaney's and Schwerner's deaths by Rogelio Solis/AP