Chaney, Orr-Klopfer to Speak at Mount Holyoke Conference

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Ben Chaney, younger brother of the slain civil rights activist James Chaney, and civil rights author Susan Orr-Klopfer are set to share stories of the explosive civil rights past at an upcoming Weissman Center conference at Mount Holyoke College.

Civil rights activist Ben Chaney and writer Susan Orr-Klopfer are to appear Thursday, March 9, at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., on a civil rights panel sponsored by the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts.

Klopfer, the author of "Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited," will talk about her experiences living on the grounds of the Parchman Penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta for two years while investigating and writing about four civil rights cold cases. She is to appear with Ben Chaney, the brother of slain activist James Chaney as they engage in dialogue about social reconstruction..

"The Civil Rights era in America stands out as a period of great national upheaval and of unprecedented moments of community solidarity. The era is synonymous with non-violent resistance, and also with barbarous acts of violence that ranged from murders of young civil rights workers to the assassinations of prominent public officials.

"Our speakers Ben Chaney and Susan Orr-Klopfer share powerful links to this explosive American past and are dedicated to seeking justice for those persecuted and killed during the Civil Rights era," said a spokesperson for the Weissman Center.

In June 1964, three young civil rights workers named James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner who were part of Freedom Summer began their work in Meridian, Mississippi. They were captured, beaten, and then murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. The three men were buried in an earthen dam and were not found for some forty-four days after the killings.

"In January 2005, the state of Mississippi finally filed its first charges against one of the Ku Klux Klan members involved in the murders. In June, the charged man was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to sixty years in prison."

Ben Chaney, a native of Meridian, Mississippi, came of age during the Civil Rights Movement. Before his twelfth birthday, Ben Chaney already had been arrested on more than twenty occasions for his role in non-violent civil rights demonstrations.

He is the founder and president of the James Earl Chaney Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 1998 and that is committed to civil rights, human rights, and to social justice.

"Susan Orr-Klopfer is an investigative journalist and the author of two powerful and illuminating books on the Civil Rights Movement. Her most recent work, Where Rebels Roost: Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited is a riveting documentary history that sheds light on conspiracies, murders, civil rights activism, and community politics in Mississippi, the state in which James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were slain in 1964."

Ms. Orr-Klopfer also is the author of The Emmett Till Book, a work that revisits the world in which 14-year old Emmett Till was kidnapped and lynched in August 1955.

Event Details

Date: Thursday, March 9

Time: 7:30 PM

Speaker: Ben Chaney and Susan Orr-Klopfer

Place: Gamble Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College

Admission: Free and open to the public.

Contact Information, Mount Holyoke:

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