Andrew Goodman’s Legacy and the Significance of Student Activism
May 13th, 1965 was a day that will never be forgotten in Queens College history. Many students that day gathered at Queens College to listen to a man who had a powerful and very recognizable voice. He was an African-American man who went by the name of Martin Luther King jr. Who would have thought that such a powerful man that is associated with Civil Rights would be in Queens College? His reason for being there was to educate the students from Queens College on Civil Rights and to acknowledge the death of former Queens college student, Andrew Goodman. Fifty years ago, students from many colleges were protesting against major conflicts that were going on at the time. Conflicts like racism, warfare and other political/social differences were protested by students who believed that the country and our world needed changes. As of today, students from all over the country continue to protest and voice their beliefs and ideas in order to make progress not only for the country, but the human race in general. Recently, many students from different colleges united with students from the University of Missouri to protest against racism after many students believed that racism still played a role in the institution. Some of the incidents included racial slurs being targeted against students like, senior, Peyton Head who is the president of Missouri Students Association. There were also racial slurs targeted against black students during the schools homecoming. It was because of these incidents that made students question the schools tolerance on racism when there was not one response to them. Due to modern social media, this protest spread like wild fire and everyone began taking part in the protest. Students from around the country started to voice their opinions on Facebook and Instagram about the protests in Missouri. This put a lot of pressure on the University of Missouri and other colleges around the country. This blog post will not only show the legacy of one our former students but will also show how student activism still plays a huge role in the college community.
A clock tower stands tall near the middle of the Queens College campus. This clock tower is called the Chaney-Goodman-Schwerner Clock Tower and is located on the Benjamin S. Rosenthal library and was dedicated to three slain Civil Rights activists. It is usually one of the first structures one notices on the campus due to its impressive stance. Their names are forever more apart of the Queens College community and for good reason as they were immense contributors to the Civil Rights movement. According to the news article “Queens College Honors 3 Slain Civil Rights Workers” which was published on May 11th 1989, the tower was dedicated to the three Civil Rights activists nearly twenty years after they were murdered. On June 21, 1964 Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney and Michael Henry Schwerner went missing in Mississippi. Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney and Michael Henry Schwerner were in Mississippi to support the Civil Rights Movement and their goal was to help African Americans register to vote. During this time the color of your skin was a good enough reason for you not to vote. Essentially, politics had no concern with anyone that was black. It’s a shame especially since these same people could not vote for their own political leaders but it was perfectly fine for them to risk their lives in war. So for someone like Andrew Goodman to go down south and help these people register to vote means a lot not only for the specific people he helped but for the African American people as a whole since it eventually lead to them being able to have the right to vote. After days of searching their bodies were uncovered in a dam. It was discovered that the three activists were arrested for speeding (35mph over 30mph) which led to Chaney being booked for speeding and Chaney/Goodman being booked “for investigation”. When ordered to leave the county after Chaney was fined twenty dollars, Sheriff Cecil Price followed the three men in his car. After catching up with them, he asked them to get into his car, which then resulted in the three activists getting beaten and killed in a deserted area by Klansmen.
It is quite disturbing to think that a person’s skin color, something that they have no control over, can be an excuse or motive to do such horrific things like attack, rape or murder. Even though Andrew Goodman was a white man, he was not safe from racism against African Americans. His great heart and bravery would lead to his death. In an interview with Andrew’s mother, who was a retired psychologist, she disagreed with people who said that Andrew Goodman gave his life for Civil Rights. Instead, she said, “no, Andy didn't give his life. Andy lost his life.” What she was saying is that Andrew knew going down south would be a risk, but not a risk that he thought would end up with him losing his life. When Andrew left his home, he left believing that he would return home to his family. Andrew did not go to war in another country, he was in his home country and was killed by a fellow white American that thought Andrew’s attempt at helping fellow Americans was enough of reason to murder him. It takes a real disgusting and heartless person to do a crime like the one that was committed against those three brave men. Even though Andrew lost his life, his legacy will be immortal. He will forever be known as a hero and someone that paid the ultimate price in order to help a great cause. Not only is his legacy immortalized in Queens College but also in other ways like “The Andrew Goodman Building” in Manhattan and the Andrew Goodman Foundation which was set up by his mother in order to support for work for social justice. In addition, Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner were awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
Today, movements and protests that are concerned with racism still exist. BlackLivesMatter is a nation wide movement that was established after the murder of Trayvon Martin. The BlackLivesMatter site states “#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise” which today has become a common conflict in our society. The Ferguson protests sparked after the murder of Michael Brown by a white police officer. Michael Brown was unarmed and there have been many perspectives on what truly happened that day. However, what sparked an outcry was when it was announced that Officer Wilson was not going to be punished for what happened. This caused major protests and chaos in Ferguson. Clearly to this day, race is still a major issue and is still being protested against not only by American citizens but college students alike. Social media plays a huge role nowadays as now anything and everything can be uploaded and seen by millions of people around the country and billions around the world. For example, social media was a catalyst when it came to the University of Missouri protests.A Facebook status stating that students were noticing what was going on in Missouri was enough for people to take notice on what was going on in Missouri. What is great about college protests is that it brings together a large sum of people from all different parts of the world together and builds a strong bond amongst them. It allows for people to trust and fight for each other in order to progress the planet. If not for pioneers like Andrew Goodman, who knows where the world would be? It takes just that one person who makes it a mission to better the human race and create changes that is needed in order elevate us as a people.
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