Michael Schwerner ’61 Earns Posthumous Medal of Freedom

Michael Schwerner
Photo: Robert Barker/University Photography

Fifty years after civil rights worker Michael “Mickey” Schwerner ’61 was slain in Mississippi by members of the Ku Klux Klan, President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to his family Nov. 24 at the White House. A development sociology major, Schwerner was working for the Congress of Racial Equality to educate and register African-American voters when he and coworkers James Earl Chaney and Andrew Goodman were murdered. Their deaths ignited outrage, prompting Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. The medal’s citation concludes: “James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner still inspire us. Their ideals have been written into the moral fabric of our nation, from the landmark civil rights legislation enacted days after their deaths to our continued pursuit of a more perfect union.”