The names of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner came to symbolize the idealism, bravery, love and horror of that summer in Mississippi 25 years ago, a summer when most of America cringed in pain as their mission to help blacks register to vote was cut brutally short by their murders. The name of Sue Brown, then a 17-year-old high school senior, the leader of the youth unit of the NAACP, the local contact for the workers who worked in Meridian that summer, is known only to the eyewitnesses of her hometown, to civil rights insiders and a few historians. Brown would have been in the car with the three workers who went to see a charred church in Neshoba County that Sunday if she had gotten her way. Mickey Schwerner told her it was dangerous and she had to stay to give the new volunteers' orientation. Tonight at 7 on Channel 7 her story will be the focus of an ABC "event drama" titled "Under Fire: The Real Story." Over the years Brown has deliberately kept almost total silence as the civil rights movement of the 1960s has been analyzed, romanticized, revived and, in her opinion, distorted. "My name not being well known is by choice," says Brown, now 42 and an administrator for the D.C. Commission on Public Health. "I never once had a commitment for selfish motivations. I never thought of self in those terms. I was not the out-front person or had an ego which had to be satisfied by everybody knowing who I am or who I was at that time. I'm just a home girl inside. "I have learned in maturity that there are some things you have to do for yourself in order to be able to do even more for others. One thing my mother always told me was 'if you enter life or undertake issues in life because of what you personally want to get out of them usually no good will come of it.' " After a researcher for producer Alan Landsburg called her out of the blue in March she decided to cooperate because they said they were developing a series about "ordinary people" and their role in extraordinary moments in history. After subsequent discussions, Brown decided the focus of the project was right. "Most of the time {filmmakers and writers} could not give me a concept. I didn't want this part of my life experience to be exploited," says Brown of past attempts to get her to talk. Her voice is firm and she has a radiant sunniness though most of her discussion is about danger and death. She has never been married and lives in a modest house in a quiet, tree-lined section of Northeast with a niece, a college student, and her niece's 2-year-old daughter. The Landsburg group, she says, "had an interest particularly in telling a different side of the story because of the 'Mississippi Burning' film. That roped me ... If you are going to do a film that tells the story of local people who were involved and portrays the sense that local people were involved prior to 1964 ... Even though we welcomed the help that came in for the summer, by no means were people just sitting and waiting for a 'deliverer.' We were active." The mention of "Burning," last year's much-debated movie about the three civil rights workers, infuriates her. She refused to see the movie. "What clenched that was not just the reviews that had been written of the distortion of history and an event that was very, very personal and extremely painful," she says. "But when {director Alan Parker} made the statement that movie audiences would not pay to see black heroes. For those racist and capitalistic reasons alone I would not support it even if it cost 5 cents or even if it were free. You don't take a significant event in history that happened to be the catalyst which was used to help sensitize America to the racism and also to bring the movement into the living rooms of the American public as a Hollywood gimmick to make money. I deeply resent that." Hers is the story of the organizers, the army of people who laid the foundations, risked their lives, their businesses and their reputations, slowly making changes until a moment happened. They were moments that they sometimes planned, sometimes led, and sometimes had to watch from the sidelines. They were there before the moment and afterward. Until she was 6 years old, Brown lived in Lauderdale County, Miss., outside Meridian, where her father was a laborer on the railroad and her mother raised 11 children, picked cotton, took in laundry and did domestic work. The youngest in her family, Brown's early experiences with racism were soothed by her mother's love and wisdom. When a white girl taunted her by saying "God loved her better because she was white," her mother told her God loved her more because "God took the time to paint you." After her father was seriously injured in a fall from a railroad car, the family moved to Meridian. There Brown joined every school organization, usually taking a leadership role, and at age 13 became the president of the fledging NAACP Youth Council. For the next couple of years she worked on voter registration education drives and education projects. She knew about the lynching of Emmett Till and the bodies in the river that blacks never reported to authorities. She was determined not to accept anyone's parameters for her. She paid for her activism in small ways; she was harassed by the black teachers in her segregated school who gave her low grades, and her name was kept off the Honors Society list on Class Day. She fought that oversight and had a special assembly. "You had to make a decision -- did you succumb, accept and become complacent and say that's the way life is so I accept it? I wouldn't aspire to do anything different ... I just decided I wasn't going to accept it," she says. Early in 1964 Mickey Schwerner and his wife Rita moved to Meridian and worked with Brown to identify supportive people, scout out churches and other locations where they could have mass meetings and run freedom schools. Brown remembers Schwerner as a sincere idealist, and she told him with an adolescent's clarity that there were things people "were not going to do just because it is the right thing to do. You cannot change a lifetime overnight." The night before the workers went to see the church, they met at her house, discussed the trip to Neshoba and decided she would stay home. "I was a little disappointed," she says. When the three workers hadn't returned to Meridian within a reasonable time, Brown organized the telephone search of stores, hospitals and other contacts. She drove with another worker to the Neshoba County line but didn't see any sign of the three. Then she met with one of the city's leaders and an FBI agent. At the time the three were in jail but the local authorities lied, saying they weren't there. After they were released on June 21, they vanished and the bodies were found 44 days later in a shallow grave six miles outside Philadelphia, Miss. It was several days after the disappearance, when Brown was listening to a graphic scenario of what probably happened to the workers, that the possibilities sunk in. "That was the first time I accepted the fact that they probably would not be coming back. They probably were dead. Up until then I said they would arrest them, they would beat them, they would scare them to death. But they wouldn't really murder three people. I wouldn't allow myself to believe they were dead. But then I turned and walked away and went into a room by myself. George {Raymond, another civil rights worker} followed me. I broke. We stayed in there an hour and I expressed my feelings that I never thought it would get to the point where people would be murdered, not three people." She survived, she says by keeping busy. The night the bodies were found, she accompanied a minister to the Chaneys' house to inform his mother but ended up staying in the car because "I was such a mess." After the memorial service, Brown went to spend a couple of weeks with a minister's family in New Jersey and ended up staying 18 years. She earned an undergraduate degree at Bloomfield College, aided by scholarship money arranged by the Schwerner family, then a graduate degree in social work at Rutgers University and did a series of jobs, including the top administrative job at a hospital in Newark, before moving to Washington in 1983. She doesn't think she was courageous. "There are more Sue Browns in the world. Unfortunately today the Sue Browns of the world don't receive encouragement ... I just look at my efforts as being an extension of a supportive environment I was raised in and provided the encouragement and the reinforcement that I could do whatever I wanted to do in life, recognizing the reality there would be obstacles I would have to overcome and society would be working against me." In tonight's segment, about half of the hour-long program, Brown makes her film debut as a nameless organizer, recites one line and teaches "Oh Freedom" to a group of volunteers and later may be sighted in a scene in the community center as the volunteers receive some instructions. "It was a nominal fee," she says, when asked the financial arrangements. She gave the consent to use her story but did not sell the rights because she is writing her own book. When she was on location in Charleston, S.C., in April, watching Shari Belafonte portray the Addie Sue Brown of 25 years ago, she saw news clips from that summer for the very first time. She cried then and she cried last week as she described her reaction. She says she almost didn't recognize herself, sitting at the funeral behind the Chaney family. "I never watched. I never had a need to watch," she says. "I was there, I lived it. What I began to realize is that even though I had admitted to myself it was still very painful, I didn't realize how painful it was."