Joseph Keesecker

COFO, SCLC, Mississippi, Florida, 1964-65
Current Residence: Phoenix, AZ

In Mississippi the Summer of 1964, I was involved in voter registration and helping to organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. I attended a district meeting and the first state convention of the party. I lived and worked in Madison County part of the summer (Valley View) and in Leake County the second part (Harmony).

In Madison, FL, the Summer of 1965, I again did voter education and registration.

Involvement in these parts of the Civil Rights Movement changed my life forever. I became deeply aware of the injustices in our society, fueled by racism in ways I had not understood before, as a white farm boy from Kansas.

One event that had enormous impact for me was the coincidence of having flipped a coin with Andrew Goodman at Oxford, OH, when Michael Schwerner had gotten the call from Mississippi about the burned church in Philadelphia, was preparing to drive to Mississippi and wanted to take at least one summer volunteer with him. Andrew "won" the toss, and went with Schwerner, and then with Chaney and Schwerner to Philadelphia. When the three men's bodies were found in the dam, it was just a few miles from where I was then living in Harmony.

Since that first summer, I have sought to work for justice and especially for an end to racism in our society.


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