Civil Rights Leaders
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Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
The most dramatic result of the Freedom Summer and the one that received the most press coverage were the formation of the (MFDP) Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. It was an alternative to the Mississippi "Jim Crow" Democratic Party. The other organization created this party and was able to enroll almost 80,000 disfranchised blacks. This party challenged the legitimacy and supremacy of Mississippi's all-white regular Democratic Party. The Nation first Black political party, quickly became a formidable force that captured the attention of the National Democratic Party. The MFDP selected sixty-eight delegates to attend the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The party had managed to get names of four MFDP candidates on the Mississippi Democratic primary ballot to be delegates to the convention, but they all lost, sine there was not many blacks registered to vote.
At first, the MFDP goal was to challenge the white the Mississippi Delegation as a way to dramatize the illegal exclusion of blacks from the political process, but instead they gained nation-wide sympathetic support.
When President Johnson heard the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party could hurt his chances for reelection, he immediately set up a press conference to be covered live. He also wanted to prevent any divisive floor debate over the MFDP. Johnson believed he already had the black votes, but he was really concerned about heading off a massive defection by the South moving to the Republican Party. President Johnson tried to get the MFDP delegates to attend the convention, but he said they could not vote. They immediately refused.
Fannie Lou Hamer described the proposal as "a token of rights on the back row that we get in Mississippi. We didn't come all this way for this mess again." On August 26, the delegates of the Mississippi Freedom Party announced, "We must stop playing the game of accepting token registration for the real change and of allow in the opposition to chose a few leaders to represent the people at large." This event left a huge impact in the struggle for civil rights and for the blacks and whites.