In 1964, Philadelphia, Miss., in Neshoba County, was wracked by violence as three civil rights workers volunteering in Freedom Summer were murdered. On the 40th anniversary of the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, the multiracial Philadelphia Coalition called for justice in their deaths and commemorated their sacrifice with a memorial service. The group also helped create a civil rights tour and brochure, began an oral history project, and began planning local curriculum development.
In January 2005, the state of Mississippi brought the first murder charges in the case and on June 21, 2005, an integrated jury convicted the defendant of manslaughter in the case. The coalition is now committed to an educational initiative to understand the state’s dark history so that it can never be repeated. In June 2005, the coalition and the Institute cohosted the Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner Living Memorial Civil Rights Education Summit. 106 teachers attended the 3–day conference and launched a statewide educational network.
From July 8-26, 2013, the Choice Program in Philadelphia taught 122 youth, kindergarten through sixth grade, math skills, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. Started in 2011, Choice is a teen mentoring summer program that grew out of the Neshoba Youth Coalition–NYC teens mentor the younger children. In the three years of the Choice Program, the students, from Philadelphia and Neshoba County schools, have seen their test scores improve dramatically; program coordinators are awaiting official test that support the improvements cited by school administrators.
In March 2013, Winter Institute staff hosted 120 young men from three Mississippi communities (West Point, Canton, and Philadelphia) at Camp Dixon, outside Philadelphia, Miss., for four days, during which they learned about responsibility to their communities. The boys, ages 8-18, were mentored by older African-American role models, such as Josh Moore, a Mississippi State graduate who now plays for the Green Bay Packers.