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Philadelphia, Mississippi is the county seat of Neshoba County. Nearby communities include Bogue Chitto, Pearl River, Stallo, and Tucker. Meridian, Mississippi is about thirty-eight miles southeast of Philadelphia. The region was inhabited by the Choctaw people until most of them were removed in the 1830s, although several European-Americans settled portions of the region prior to that time. Philadelphia was incorporated in 1903, a couple of years before the railroad extended its track through the area. In June of 1964, Philadelphia was the scene of the murders of three Civil Rights activists: James Chaney, a 21 year-old black man from Meridian, Andrew Goodman, a 20 year-old Jewish student from New York, and Michael Schwerner, a 24 year-old Jewish organizer from New York. Ku Klux Klan members, including the deputy sheriff of Neshoba County, released the men from jail, then took them to a remote location and killed them. Outrage over their deaths helped to gain support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the incident gave rise to the Mississippi Burning Trial, also known as United States versus Cecil Price, et al. Edgar Ray Killen, a Klan organizer, was tried for the 1964 murders in 2005; acquitted of murder, he was found guilty of manslaughter. The city’s first black mayor, James A. Young, was elected in 2009. The 1959 Heisman Trophy winner, Billy Cannon, was a native of Philadelphia.

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