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1964 DNC, Atlantic City opened doors for blacks

Fannie Lou Hamer pleads for delegate recognition
Fannie Lou Hamer pleads for delegate recognition

Fannie Lou Hamer, a voter's rights activist, testified to the 1964 Atlantic City, NJ DNC Credentials Committee, begging for official seating of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). She spoke of the horrendous abuse, shootings and jailings of Blacks endured for trying to register to vote and become involved in the American political process.

"We are going to make you wish you were dead," she said an police officer told her as other officers force other African American prisoners to blackjack beat her.

''I could hear the sounds of licks and horrible screams. I could hear somebody say, 'can you say 'yes sir nigger?' She (black female cellmate) said"I don't know you well enough.' They beat her for I don't know how long and after a while she began to pray and asked God to have mercy on those people...Is this America?" (Say It Plain, American RadioWorks)

The MFDP, integrated and organized by the MFDP with help from the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and the Council of Federated Organizations, challenged the legitimacy of the all white Democratic Party.

The MFDP were denied DNC official recognition. Lyndon B. Johnson, presidential nominee, against Barry Goldwater, and Hubert H. Humphrey, vice president who assisted civil rights activist Roy Wilkins in compiling the MFDP a compromise to allow two of the 68 members as at large delegates, the others would be non-voting guests and no future convention would accept a delegation chosen by discriminatory polls. The offer was refused and sympathetic delegates loaned the MFPD seating passes but the actual chairs were removed by organizers. The 1964 DNC disillusioned many within the MFDP and the civil rights movement but it became more radical.

"As far as I'm concerned, this was the turning point of the civil rights movement. Now, for the first time we made our way to the center of the system...we had played by the rules. done everything we were suppose to do, had arrived at the doorstep and the door was slammed in our face," stated John Lewis, 1964 SNCC chairman, presently U.S. Representative of Georgia. (Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, WiKi)

1968 DNC, Chicago, Hamer became the first Black seated as an official delegate since Reconstruction and the first woman from Mississippi.

The MFDP convention challenge opened doors for the 2012 youngest delegate, Trestan Fairweather, who's 18th birthday is the day before this year's election and for President Barack Obama.


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