[N.p., probably either Jackson, Ms. or Washington, D.C. 1964]. v,73pp. Original light blue printed wrappers, stapled. Minor soiling, some sunning and wear around the edges. Internally clean. Very good. Item #4514
A scarce pamphlet issued by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in a notable attempt to be recognized by the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 1964 national nominating convention. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party submitted the present brief to the Credentials Subcommittee of the Democratic National Committee, asking to be seated at the convention instead of the all-white “traditional” delegation of the Mississippi Democratic Party. The MFDP argued that they were the only democratically-elected body of Democrats from Mississippi since racist policies forbid them to participate in the traditional state Democratic party; the MFDP's precinct and district elections were open to all races. The MFDP garnered support from all major civil rights groups, many of which worked in their favor during the early days of the convention. Fannie Lou Hamer, vice-chairman of the MFDP's delegation, gave an impassioned, nationally-televised speech in front of the Credentials Committee, in which she questioned the very nature of America should the MFDP not be seated at the convention.
The present pamphlet was then submitted on behalf of the MFDP. The argument is organized into two main sections. The first is the Statement of Facts, comprised of three sections labeled "Why the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was Formed," "Organization and Operation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party," and "Operation of the Mississippi Democratic Party." The second section is comprised of the "Legal Arguments for Seating the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party" laid out in three main subsections that basically stand on the illegality of the "traditional" Mississippi Democratic Party. The lawyers then list the twenty-two precedents cited in their arguments, and include a "Miscellaneous" section of supporting addresses, articles, reports, and more also cited in the text. The root of the issue at hand is stated near the beginning of the Introduction: "Whether the National Democratic Party takes its place with the oppressed Negroes of Mississippi or their white oppressors...."
The Credentials Committee offered an unsatisfactory compromise, in which the MDFP would be granted two at-large seats at the convention while also offering to seat all of the "traditional" Mississippi Democratic Party delegates as long as they promised to support all of the Democratic National Committee's candidates in the general election. The Credentials Committee also decided that segregated delegations would be barred from the 1968 convention. Martin Luther King, Jr., supported the compromise. The Mississippi insurgents rejected the offer of two at-large seats. All but three members of the regular Party slate withdrew from the Convention rather than promise blanket support of DNC candidates. With their state delegation all but absent, members of the MFDP secured passes to the convention floor, occupied the empty seats in protest, then sang freedom songs once the chairs were removed. The MFDP made quite an impact at the convention and beyond; former members of the MFDP participated in the 1968 Democratic National Convention as the sole delegates from Mississippi, calling themselves the Loyal Democrats of Mississippi. One of the assistant counselors who helped author the present pamphlet, Eleanor K. Holmes (now Eleanor Holmes Norton), an African American and a new graduate of Yale Law School in 1964, was a participant in the 1964 Freedom Summer effort in Mississippi. She has also been the Democratic Congresswoman representing the District of Columbia since 1991.
OCLC records seven copies, at NYPL, UC-Santa Barbara, Michigan State, University of Mississippi, University of Southern Mississippi, Baylor, and Wisconsin Historical Society.