Carolyn Goodman

Carolyn Goodman

Dr. Carolyn Elizabeth Drucker Goodman (October 6 1915 – August 17 2007) was a clinical psychologist who became a prominent civil rights advocate after her son, Andrew and two other civil rights workers were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in Neshoba County, Mississippi in 1964

As a psychologist, Goodman specialized in creating early intervention programs for families at risk of psychiatric problems. She developed and ran the PACE Family Treatment Center, a program for emotionally disturbed mothers of young children, at The Bronx Psychiatric Center. Her articles were published widely in prominent professional journals.

Politically active until she was 90, Goodman came to wide public attention again two years ago. Traveling to Philadelphia, Mississippi, she testified at the murder trial of Edgar Ray Killen, a former Klan leader recently indicted in the case. On June 21 2005, the 41st anniversary of the killings, a jury acquitted Mr. Killen of murder but found him guilty of manslaughter in the deaths of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner.


Born in Woodmere, New York, Goodman earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1936, a master’s in clinical psychology from the City University of New York in 1953 and a doctorate in education from Columbia University Teachers College in 1968.

After her marriage to Robert W. Goodman, a civil engineer, in the late 1930s, their apartment became a haven for progressive artists and intellectuals. In the 1950s, the Goodmans were deeply involved in the fight against McCarthyism; Alger Hiss was a guest on occasion. In 1964, Andrew, then a student at Queens College, told his parents he planned to go to Mississippi. “It wasn’t easy for us”, Goodman told "The New York Times" in 2005. “But we couldn’t talk out of both sides of our mouths. So I had to let him go.”

Goodman and Schwerner, two white Northerners, and Mr. Chaney, a black Mississippian, converged in Neshoba County, Mississippi in the summer of 1964. They were there to take part in Freedom Summer, a campaign to register black Mississippians to vote. On June 21, they disappeared. On August 4, the bodies of the three men were found in an earthen dam near Philadelphia. They had all been shot dead. This was widely seen as helping inspire the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

In 1966, Goodman and her husband Robert established the Andrew Goodman Foundation, which supports a variety of social causes.

In 1967, a federal jury in Meridian, Mississippi convicted seven Klansmen of conspiracy in the deaths of the three civil rights workers. None served more than six years. In January 2005, Edgar Ray Killen, who in 1967 had been released due to a hung jury, was arrested and charged with murder by the State of Mississippi.

At his trial, Goodman read a postcard her son wrote on June 21 1964, the last day of his life

"Dear Mom and Dad,” it read, “I have arrived safely in Meridian, Miss. This is a wonderful town, and the weather is fine. I wish you were here. The people in this city are wonderful, and our reception was very good. All my love, Andy."


Robert Goodman, died of a stroke in 1969, aged 54. Carolyn Goodman's second husband, Joseph Eisner, whom she had married in 1972, died in 1992.


Carolyn Goodman, who had suffered a series of strokes and seizures in the weeks before her death, died of natural causes in Manhattan, New York. At her death, she was assistant clinical professor emeritus of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in The Bronx. She is survived by her sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held on October 7, 2007 in Manhattan.

Mr. Chaney’s mother, Fannie Lee Chaney, died in May 2007; Edgar Ray Killen is currently serving a 60-year sentence.


"I still feel that I would let Andy go to Mississippi again ... [E] ven after this terrible thing happened to Andy, I couldn’t make a turnabout of everything I believe in." (C. Goodman in a 1965 interview with the "New York Times)"


* [ Spartacus Forum]
* [ Andrew Goodman site]
* [ How the Mississippi Burning Case Was Reopened]
* [ Info site]
* [ Jewish Currents/2005]
* [ New York Times obituary]

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