This telefilm is based on the real-life lynchings of three civil rights workers, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Henry Schwerner, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on June 21, 1964. Chaney (from Mississippi) and Schwerner and Goodman (from New York) had been working to register voters in Neshoba County, Mississippi, when they were arrested on trumped-up charges, released to the Ku Klux Klan, and murdered and buried by the Klan. After the state would not try the case, there was a federal prosecution that resulted (in 1967) in no prison sentence over 6 years for any of the conspirators to murder the three men (the presiding judge told a reporter, "they killed one nigger, one Jew, and a white man [though in fact, both Goodman and Schwerner were Jewish.] I gave them all what I thought they deserved.") On June 21, 2005 (the 41st anniversary of the murders), the Klansman who was widely believed to have been the ringleader of the crimes, Edgar Ray "Preacher" Killen, was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison. See also the trivia page for Mississippi Burning (which was loosely based on the Goodman-Chaney-Schwerner murders).