August 15, 2006

Victoria Gray Adams has died. She was a pioneering civil rights activist from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The physical and moral courage of these civil rights pioneers is truly inspiring. She was also one of a group of “Mississippi Freedom Democrats” who fought to be recognized by the national Democratic Party in 1964. That year, the all-white state Democratic machine sent a hand-picked delegation that included no black members.

The AP has the story:

Victoria Gray Adams, who helped open Freedom Schools that pushed for civil rights in Mississippi in 1964 and became a founding member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, died Saturday at her home.She was 73.

Adams was a Hattiesburg, Miss. native. Along with Fannie Lou Hamer and others, she attempted to unseat the all-white Mississippi Democratic Party delegation during the 1964 Democratic National Convention at Atlantic City, NJ. While they did not replace the all-white group, the Freedom Democrats brought national attention to Mississippi's racial and political divisions.

If today’s news media had been covering the 1964 Convention, would they have described the Freedom Democrats as “extremists” seeking to divide a party and unseat the “moderate” all-white delegation?

Would they have said that the Freedom group’s struggle for racial equality represented “the latest expression of a perennial self-destructive urge within the Democratic Party”? Would they have said that blacks struggling for basic civil liberties represented one of “the party's electorally lethal special-interest groups”?

Would they have chastised the Freedom Democrats, reminded them of the conflict in Vietnam, and scolded them that “bipartisan moderation … has the additional advantage of being the highest form of patriotism and the only route to victory in a time of war”?
Hey, I’m only asking.

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