1964 April 26

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Founded


The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), founded on this day, was one part of the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi, which began on June 21, 1964. The MFDP was an independent bi-racial Democratic Party group that challenged the “regular” all-white, pro-segregation delegation at the national Democratic Party Convention in August, and demanded to be seated as the official Mississippi delegation. After a bitter confrontation at the Atlantic City, New Jersey, convention, the challenge failed.

One of the dramatic  events of the MFDP challenge was the famous speech by delegate Fannie Lou Hamer to the credentials committee, on August 22, 1964. The speech was carried live on national television, and it made her famous. )President Lyndon Johnson tried to sabotage the coverage by calling a sudden but meaningless press conference.) Four years later, after low-key but intense negotiations, Hamer and other MFDP representatives were seated at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention. Fannie Lou Hamer died on March 14, 1977. A statue in her honor was erected in Ruleville, Mississippi, on October 5, 2012.

Listen to Fannie Lou Hamer’s famous speech at the convention on August 22, 1964:

Learn more: Gordon Martin, Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote (2010)

Examine original MFPD Documents: http://www.crmvet.org/info/mfdphome.htm

Read about Fannie Lou Hamer: Kay Mills, This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer (1993)

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