Atlantic City’s DNC: A precursor to the Voting Rights Act

By | September 6, 2014

This city is known for its world-famous casinos, boardwalk and being the long-held home of the Miss America Pageant – not a place one would typically associate with a landmark national political convention.

But back in 1964, Democrats chose the resort city to host their presidential nominating convention, less than a year after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. President Lyndon Johnson, who had taken office nine months earlier following Kennedy’s death, was expected to easily clinch the nomination. But drama ensued and its outcome will always be an important chapter in America’s civil rights history.

Civil rights activists viewed the August convention as an opportunity to spotlight the exclusion of African-Americans from voting. African-Americans in Mississippi that year had formed their own political party, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (FDP), and its members traveled to Atlantic City to attend the convention and rail against the seating of Mississippi’s all white, Democratic delegation. At the heart of their argument was that the state’s party prohibited African-Americans from helping select convention delegates and that the makeup of the Mississippi delegation did not truly represent those living in the state. (MSNBC)

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