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Philadelphia Mississippi



P R E S S   R E L E A S E


For Immediate Release:

May 21, 2009


Contact: George Holmes

(212) 598-4000


CORE congratulate the first African-American

elected Mayor of Philadelphia, Mississippi


Calls election a significant example of change in Mississippi



 Mississippi Turning?: Infamous Town Elects First Black Mayor


The small Mississippi town widely known for the murders of three young civil rights workers from CORE in 1964 has turned a page of sorts. James Young, a 53-year-old minister, narrowly defeated incumbent Mayor Rayburn Waddell by a 64 vote margin to become the first African American mayor in the town's history. 


"This shows a complete change of attitude and a desire to move forward," Young told the press. A native of Philadelphia, he "integrated the local elementary school as the only black student in his sixth-grade class in the 1960s, according to the New York Times


Philadelphia, Mississippi, a mostly white city of 7,300 people, was once the scene of a different milestone in 1964. In August of 1964, CORE workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered as they attempted to organize voters during the "Freedom Summer."  Chaney, a 21-year-old black man from Meridian, Mississippi, was a local CORE leader in Meridian. He was accompanied by two white volunteers, CORE member, 20-year-old Andrew Goodman and 24-year-old Michael Schwerner, a CORE field organizer during the "Freedom Summer" voter registration campaign throughout the South. 


The story of the murders was depicted in the 1988 film "Mississippi Burning" with Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe.


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CORE -- Congress of Racial Equality  *  P.O. Box 264  *  New York, N.Y.  *  10276  *  Tel: (212) 598-4000  *  Fax: (212) 982-0184


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