Legacy Speaks: Mrs. Victoria Jackson Gray

A statement from Victoria Jackson Gray, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Organizer

As an outgrowth of SNCC work with the Council of Federated Organizers (COFO) on the Mississippi Voter Education Project, “freedom registration” and “freedom vote” efforts, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) was founded in April of 1964. Read the statement of Mrs. Victoria Jackson Gray, SNCC organizer and Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party leader, which captures the essence of the disenfranchisement for Black Mississippians and positions MFDP as the political solution.

“The Negro in Mississippi stands today at the crossroads of his political life on the one hand he is faced with Barry Goldwater as the Republican Party candidate for president of the United States and on the other hand he is given the choice of allegiance to the Democratic party which for years has seated a Mississippi delegation openly opposed to the National Party platform and close to negro participation in political life within the state.

The condition has continued to exist simply because the Negro in Mississippi has not been able to vote in sufficient number to force a change in the make-up of the party delegation. And because denial of the ballot has dogged his footsteps on the local state and National level the Negro has been at the mercy of whatever political winds that were blowing both from within the party and from the outside.

The fact is that even those small number of negroes who survived the trip to the courthouse to register with all its violence and intimidation still could not make themselves heard effectively because of organized opposition they have been unable to register in sufficient numbers to shake off the grip of the traditional state-wide democratic machine the time has now come for a change to be made and we feel that the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party is the instrument through which that change will come.”