Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of a crime that shocked a nation already torn by segregation, social injustice, and violence against blacks and advocates of civil rights for all.
On June 21, 1964, James Chaney (a black Mississippian), Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner (both whites from the North), who were volunteering in the Freedom Summer Project to register blacks to vote, were ambushed on a rural road, beaten and shot.
Their bodies were not found for another six weeks.
While the search was being conducted, CBS News broadcast an hour-long special report, anchored by Walter Cronkite, which covered the missing men; the voter registration drive; the climate of fear experienced by blacks in the Deep South; and the reactions of white politicians, businessmen and law enforcement to the Freedom Summer Project.
That summer also marked the passage and signing of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the following year, the Voting Rights Act -- sparked, in part, by the murders (which were later dramatized in the 1988 film, "Mississippi Burning").
However, justice for Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner was a long time in coming.
The jury deadlocked in the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, a reputed Ku Klux Klansman and part-time preacher, when a lone juror refused to find a preacher guilty.
In June 2005, Killen was tried again on three counts of manslaughter and convicted. Observers saw the conviction of the 80-year-old as a compromise -- Killen was found not guilty of murder by the jury of nine whites and three blacks -- but he was sentenced nonetheless to three consecutive 20-year terms.