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Highlights Archives

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

The ruins of a bombed-out black church in McComb, Mississippi, 1964
WHI 97712

Among the Society's massive manuscript collections on civil rights are the records of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). African-Americans in the state found themselves almost entirely excluded from electoral politics by the state's official, and segregated, Democratic Party. The MFDP's founders organized the party in the spring of 1964 to provide black Mississippians with experience in organizing a party, nominating candidates and running for office.

Its leaders also intended to challenge the right of the official party's all-white delegation to represent the state at the Democratic National Convention in August 1964. Finding the new party's members excluded from participating in the November 1964 election, the MFDP challenged the right of the Mississippi's newly elected congressmen to take their seats in the House of Representative.

The Milwaukee Freedom Democratic Party Filmstrip

Early in 1965 the MFDP assembled a filmstrip of 79 photographs to publicize the party's cause. Photographers working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) took most of the photos, and many appeared in SNCC's newsletter, The Student Voice. The images document conditions in Mississippi in the mid-1960s, the activities of Freedom Summer, the growth of the MFDP, and its challenges to the Democratic Party in August 1964 and to Congress in January 1965.

The filmstrip and notes for a script to accompany it are part of the Society's new Freedom Summer digital collection.

:: Posted August 22, 2013

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