A mother remembers her slain son
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 11:52 AM
Andy Goodman was a handsome college man, a great athlete who played the clarinet beautifully and loved the dramatic arts, his mother said.
He was really quite remarkable in his thoughtfulness, she recalled, never forgetting a birthday. For his high school graduation he wrote a long, epic-like poem that one of his classmates read during their graduation.
Those recollections are recorded in a 1989 interview that Stanley Dearman, editor and publisher emeritus of The Neshoba Democrat, did with Dr. Carolyn Goodman, at her apartment in New York City.
In preparation for the upcoming 40th anniversary of the civil rights murders here on June 21, The Neshoba Democrat will periodically do reports.
The full text of the Goodman interview appears on page 13A.
A task force of city, county and tribal leaders is in the process of being formed to mark the 40th anniversary and to study options for an appropriate public memorial.
A 1989 commemoration was Mrs. Goodman’s first visit to Philadelphia, one she said was very important to her, noting how Mississippi has changed.
She spoke of reaching out to the hardened hearts of those who committed or still condone the murders.
“I just feel that if there are people there who still have these same feelings that they had 25 years ago, we’ve got to reach out to them and let them see that there is another way, that by joining together and reaching out together and talking together, problems can be solved. And I say that about all nations throughout the world. There are all kinds of things that are happening—in the Middle East in the Far East and so forth, and if we refuse to talk to the people we look upon as our enemies, we are never going to solve the problem,” Mrs. Goodman said.
Unsettled differences fester and they ultimately destroy, she said.
Andy was like his father, a person of many dimensions, admired so by one college professor that after Andy died she told his mother that the year he was in her poetry class was her greatest year of teaching ever.
Classmates looked up to him. “He would get up and read a touching poem and sometimes the tears would come to his eyes and that made it possible for the other kids to express themselves as openly as he did,” she said.
He was a wonderful swimmer, and had a feeling for the beauty and sensitive things in life, she said.
He could go to a movie and be so moved and the tears would come. “You know, at that age, young people can’t express their feelings,” she said.
He was headed to a training session in Ohio as he prepared to go to Mississippi the last time his mother saw him.
“I’ll just never forget the last time I saw him. He was right in this room. He was driving to Oxford, Ohio, for the training session with a friend and he just hugged me and his body was so full of life.
“To think that wonderful human being was lost to the world is something …
“I can talk about Andy and I do without this kind of emotion, but when I think of those moments. There’s a picture of him taken when he was in the theater (on the piano).
The spring before Andy left for Mississippi his parents had planted a little garden in the country and Andy helped plant some corn.
“There’s nothing more dead looking than a corn seed. It’s dry and has no life at all,” she said.
During the 44 days he was missing they went up to the country and there was that that corn coming up —green, beautiful. “I thought about this young man planting it,” she said.
During those 44 days she said she couldn’t really face the reality of hsi death but “I think I knew,” she said.
“And I think we were prepared for Andy to be injured, to be hurt, to be hosed, to be beaten up. But, of course, parents never want to think of what really happened.”