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Mrs. Chaney Speech



Mrs. Chaney Speech


Speech given by Fannie Lee Chaney in memory of her son at the Schwerner-Chaney-Goodman Memorial Service held on the grounds of the Mount Zion Church, Philadelphia, Mississippi


Chaney, James Earl, 1943-1964
Mississippi Freedom Project
Civil Rights--Mississippi--History--20th Century


Chaney, Fannie Lee




Queens College Department of Special Collections and Archives (New York, N.Y.)



Date Created



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329 KB





Spatial Coverage

Philadelphia (Miss.)


Mrs. Chaney Speaking
at the Schwerner-Chaney~Goodman Memorial Service
Held on the grounds of tho burned Mount Zion Church,
Philadelphia, Mississippi August 16, 1964
well, you all know that I am Mrs . Chaney, the mother of James Chaney. You
all know what my child has done. He was trying so hard and he had two fellows
from New York - owned their own house and everything - Didn't have nothing to
worry about - They came here to help us. Did you all know they came here to
help us? They died for us. They died for us . Now is we gonna let this be in
vain? I can't let my child's work go in vain. And his two companions. That
boy Mickey Schwerner. He was just like a son of mine. He was just like my son.
James was my son. James told me when he came in from Canton, he say, "Momma,
you just don't know - there's a heap that you don't know." I say, "Watcha
mean?" He say, "Momma, you just don't half know. I went to school two weeks
in Jackson and Momma, I learnt something. I learned more than I learned in
nine months at Harris High and all the 16 years I went to school and I learnt
something in them two weeks." That's what my child said. He was just as well
and I was glad of it. And I was layen across the bed. He said, "You know what
Momma?" And I said "What?" He say, "Mickey Schwerner - I never knowed a man
on earth who could live like him." I said, "Watcha mean?" He say, "Momma, that
man got sense. I'll go with him and I'll die for him and I'll do anything
he'll tell me to do." He say, "Because, Momma, he came here to help us and I'm
not going to let him do it by hisself.~ He say, "I'm going with him and I'll
be with him. " I say, "Son- well, if that's what you want, I'm with you. I'm
with you and Mickey both." And that was my child. And Mickey and Andrew - they
was mine too. And I don't want those children's work to be lost. They's gone -
they was beaten, they was dogged. Now we gonna let all of that die? We gonna
let that die? No sir. I'll never let my child's life go in vain. I wanna know
if somebody's gonna help me . {"Yes !"} Is you all gonna help me? I said I wasn't
gonna say nothin - but I couldn't just stay here, stand up here, sit up here.
I gotta say somethin. My child go nights out here to this church - set up the
first mass meeting. Right here. Next time he came back, here it was burned down.
Who was it that burned this church so? For why? Now it's time for we to pray.
It' a time for us to be close now - and if we gonna do something we better try to
do it now. I want help. And I need all of you all. Everybody up yonder - they
helping us - they was behind me 100%. But right here at home. That 's where I
need help. And I'm lookin for you all to help me. Don't let those children's life
go in vain - they dead. Don't let their work die. That's when freedom started.
When they beat, destroyed, and buked my child and those other boys. That's
when freedom started. You all don't know. You all got parents and they got
lots of children that's gone. But none of em went like mine. It's hard. It's
hard. But every time there is something about freedom - I go. I got to go.
When the children come home this evenin, my head was hurtin. They say, "Momma, you goin?" I say, "Yes, I'm goin.• And I'm shore enough goin - even if nobody else don't go. I'm goin." And I meant to go. And here I am."

Original Format

8.5 x 11 inches (216 x 279 mm)


Chaney, Fannie Lee, “Mrs. Chaney Speech,” Queens College Civil Rights Archives, accessed February 16, 2020, https://archives.qc.cuny.edu/civilrights/items/show/264.