The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party through August, 1964

Romaine, Anne Cooke, Department of , University of Virginia
Gaston, Paul M., Department of History, University of Virginia
Harbaugh, William H., Department of History, University of Virginia

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, formally constituted in April, 1964, was formed as a political organization by disfranchised black Mississippians. The roots of the MFDP are contained in the organizing efforts and philosophy of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which began voter registration activity in Mississippi in 1961. The first objective of the MFDP was recognition by the National Democratic Party. The MFDP members felt that recognition, as the official Democratic Party in Mississippi, would have given Mississippi blacks the opportunity to take part in state and local politics and to make decisions about issues that concern their daily lives. Toward this end, the MFDP spent the summer preparing to challenge the regular Mississippi Democratic delegation at the national Convention which would open in August, 1964.

The following study of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party is based primarily on a series of taped interviews with various MFDP participants. The interviews were conducted two to three years after the Convention Challenge and represent many different points of view. The interviewees include members of the Mississippi Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee staff such as Bob Moses, Lawrence Guyot, Sandy Leigh, Mendy Samstein, Ivanhoe Donaldson; SNCC worker Walter Tillow, who worked in the Washington MFDP office; SNCC advisors Ella Baker and Al Lowenstein; MFDP delegates to the Convention Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, Mrs. Annie Devine, and Reverend Ed King; MFDP lawyers Joe Rauh and Bill Higgs; and a member of Hubert Hump hrey's staff during the Convention, John Stewart.

The introduction to the edited interviews summarizes the history of the Mississippi Movement from its beginning in 1960 to the formation of the MFDP and its challenge of the regular Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

Following the Introduction is a Summary and Comparison of the Interviews. The Summary contains a description of the content of each interview and the principal points at issue in the story. The interviews themselves make up the body of the study, followed by an annotated bibliography of source material related to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

MA (Master of Arts)
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Political parties -- Mississippi

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

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