Fannie Lou Hamer: Testimony at the Democratic National Convention

(1964)

In 1964 at the Democratic National Convention, Fannie Lou Hamer testified before the party’s Credentials Committee to explain the atmosphere of fear in which civil rights workers lived in Mississippi and to challenge the moral legitimacy of the state’s “regular” delegation to the convention. Hamer and her colleagues from the Mississippi civil rights movement had generated momentum that year through the Freedom Summer project, which accomplished widespread education and registration of African American voters. The activists used this momentum to launch a new political institution, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), to challenge the legitimacy of the state’s traditional Democratic Party. (In the one-party Solid South, the Democratic Party was the only one that mattered.) They did so in part simply to bring national attention to Mississippi, but they also held hopes that their gambit would result in the national Democratic Party’s stripping the state’s...

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Fannie Lou Hamer (Library of Congress)

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