Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


He was my brother...
November 15, 2010 9:21 PM   Subscribe

Andrew Goodman was a classmate and friend of Paul Simon. During the Freedom Summer of 1964, Andrew, Mickey Schwerner and James Chaney were arrested in Mississippi for speeding, and, after being released and encouraged to leave town, were shot by the KKK. The song is attributed to Paul Kane (AKA Paul Simon).
posted by HuronBob (24 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
For anyone unfamiliar with this story I recommend Three Lives for Mississippi.
posted by Tashtego at 9:28 PM on November 15, 2010


I was just listening to this song today, but didn't know the true story behind it. Thank you!
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 9:54 PM on November 15, 2010


A local artist had a painting in a cafe that was a white silhouette of Andy Goodman on a bright read background. And along with it were the words, "Andy Goodman, your martyrdom saved us from ourselves". Profoundly struck me.

Unfortunately, it was about 8'x8' and $3000.
posted by sbutler at 9:55 PM on November 15, 2010


Six years later, we had Kent State. The focus had shifted from civil rights to the war in Viet Nam.

This train of thought has been triggered by the recent posts about personal freedom (TSA scanners anyone?).....

The question in my 62 year old head is, are we still willing to stand up for the things we believe in?

I was attending college in 1970 after Kent State and was present while students (usually African American students who seemed to be the targets of preference) were beat down......, we were willing to go nose to nose with the State Police to protest what was happening in this country, is that spirit still out there?

Things aren't going to change until there is a willingness to sacrifice....
posted by HuronBob at 10:08 PM on November 15, 2010


Sacrifice? No, today it's all about entitlement. "Got mine, fuck you" is the motto.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:02 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was also a play, Of One Blood by Andrew White, which I remember as being a bit heavy-handed in the vein of Tim Robbins' stage work, but it may be better than I recall now. David Schwimmer starred in it in his pre-Friends Chicago theatre days.
posted by mykescipark at 11:02 PM on November 15, 2010


My twin brother shares the same name. Which makes this post quite odd to read and the song quite strange to listen to, given we're a pair of late-twenties Scots on the other side of the Atlantic.

Quite an inspiration. Thanks for the post.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:56 AM on November 16, 2010


Six years later, we had Kent State. The focus had shifted from civil rights to the war in Viet Nam.

And in that case, much of America felt they got what they deserved, and the anti-war movement effectively collapsed. Andy Goodman might have tried to save us from ourselves, but we were still ourselves.

The more interesting question to me, lately, has not been why people went down to Mississippi to help with civil rights, but why so many people for so many decades didn't, going on with their lives, going to school, and making money basically on the back of a apartheid system in the United States with a compliant Congress that continually, years after year, decade after decade, let it happen, if not outright encouraged it alongside the consent of the voting public.
posted by deanc at 2:44 AM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Things aren't going to change until there is a willingness to sacrifice

It's a lot easier to sacrifice when you haven't got anything to lose. That's why you frequently only saw the college kids going head-to-head with cops in the 60s. Yes, yes, eponymobvious.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:03 AM on November 16, 2010


I get "He Was My Brother" in my head a lot, but never when I'm around a computer to look up the backstory. Thanks for this.
posted by notsnot at 4:06 AM on November 16, 2010


The song is attributed to Paul Kane

Buh? Where?
posted by Gator at 5:10 AM on November 16, 2010


The question in my 62 year old head is, are we still willing to stand up for the things we believe in?

The answer is "yes" if you mean setting up an angry Facebook group or creating a snarky tumblelog.

Otherwise, no.
posted by tommasz at 5:12 AM on November 16, 2010


That's why you frequently only saw the college kids going head-to-head with cops in the 60s.

That's not even true for whites.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:47 AM on November 16, 2010


The question in my 62 year old head is, are we still willing to stand up for the things we believe in?

The answer is "yes" if you mean setting up an angry Facebook group or creating a snarky tumblelog.

Otherwise, no.


Previously.
posted by availablelight at 5:59 AM on November 16, 2010


we were willing to go nose to nose with the State Police to protest what was happening in this country, is that spirit still out there?

Of course not. It doesn't help that (just about) any time you get a protest organized, there ends up being a handful of dicks who show up simply wanting to smash shit up, and using it as a good excuse to do so, resulting in the whole protest getting beat down.
posted by antifuse at 5:59 AM on November 16, 2010


there ends up being a handful of dicks who show up simply wanting to smash shit up, and using it as a good excuse to do so, resulting in the whole protest getting beat down

Every organized "protest" I've ever been involved with has been exactly the opposite of this, a handful of media organizers with bull horns try to shuffle the clusterfuck of people around so that the press gaggle can get the best shots of the most "passionate" (read: best costumed) ones standing near the celebrity, god forbid anything meaningful or contraversial should acually occur, the two overweight cops on the sidelines might have to put down their coffees!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:23 AM on November 16, 2010


Protests don't work anymore.
posted by MrVisible at 7:05 AM on November 16, 2010


The more interesting question to me, lately, has not been why people went down to Mississippi to help with civil rights, but why so many people for so many decades didn't, going on with their lives, going to school, and making money basically on the back of a apartheid system in the United States with a compliant Congress that continually, years after year, decade after decade, let it happen, if not outright encouraged it alongside the consent of the voting public.

You might ask why are so many of us going on with our lives, school, making money etc. while blatant injustices go on every day against lgbt people?

You can't judge the awareness/sensibilities of a prior era by today's standards. Things are always more clear in hindsight. Things changed in the 60s when a critical mass finally rose up and made them change.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:40 AM on November 16, 2010


The question in my 62 year old head is, are we still willing to stand up for the things we believe in?

I guess I'll think about that at the airport this Thanksgiving when I'm choosing between having my entire body subjected to carcinogenic x-rays or having a stranger grope my testicles for $6.98 an hour.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:56 AM on November 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


The more interesting question to me, lately, has not been why people went down to Mississippi to help with civil rights, but why so many people for so many decades didn't, going on with their lives, going to school, and making money basically on the back of a apartheid system in the United States with a compliant Congress that continually, years after year, decade after decade, let it happen, if not outright encouraged it alongside the consent of the voting public.

Because it didn't affect them? There's plenty of injustices going on right now, and it's awesome to be idealistic and fight for the rights of other people even when their rights don't have any affect on your life, but a LARGE proportion of people (I would even daresay a majority) just don't care about anything that doesn't directly affect their lives. They just want to go to work, come home, and enjoy their friends/family. Or, if they care, they don't care enough to do actually do anything about it.
posted by antifuse at 7:58 AM on November 16, 2010


Thanks for posting this. I too didn't know the backstory behind He Was My Brother (for some reason I always thought Simon didn't write the lyrics, as with a good chunk of the songs on Wednesday Morning, 3 AM), and I'm glad I do now. It's so haunting and austere.
posted by kryptondog at 8:37 AM on November 16, 2010


See also Richard & Mimi FariƱa's Michael, Andrew and Jamesand Pete Seeger's Those Three Are On My Mind.
posted by maurice at 1:48 PM on November 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The conservative boomers who supported the wars and cheered on the cops were more numerous than the few ones who worked for change. Now they are the ones in charge. The kids who graduated in 1962 were the last progressive generation. From that point on it was Nixon, Reagan and two Bushes. Carter, Clinton and Obama were no were near as left as Johnson. We like to think of the boomers as liberal hippies but every demographic study shows that they were more conservative than their parents and less altruistic.
posted by humanfont at 8:38 PM on November 16, 2010


"having a stranger grope my testicles for $6.98 an hour."

You get a whole hour?????
posted by HuronBob at 10:36 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older While in Kosovo, singer James Blunt refused an ord...  |  It gets better - Lucy Knisley'... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments