[ ca. August 1964] [Hattiesburg, Mississippi] [typescript page 1]
Joe is in the process of writing a letter about the Freedom Schools, but in the meant[time]
Dick Bernstein, a friend of Joe’s who teaches philosophy at Yale, appeared here on Friday. He is on a tour of Miss., to see what the summer project is up to and how Yale can best help. He said the main impression he has about the project is that no one in the North has the vaguest idea of what is happening here. Joe is, therefore, writing up an account of the Freedom Schools, and in the meantime I want to tell about the political activity of last week.
Last week we all got involved in political activity, regardless of our specific job in the project. The voter registration people were, of course, busy registering people in the Freedom Democratic Party and telling them about the MFDP precinct meetings. In the schools we seized this opportunity both to publicize the meeting and to explain what the political process is all about. Turning our classes into mock precincts and electing delegates to a mock county convention (the whole school) was a valuable way of teaching what goes on at a political convention. The resolution writing was good for teaching English, but it did not help to make our students more aware of the deprivations they suffer as a result of lack of political voice; they were perfectly aware of all this already. Our adult students found these practice meetings lots of fun and also good practice for the actual precinct meetings.
What this is all about is that the MFDP, a [unfinished]
The MFDP, center of all this activity, is an unofficial party, with its own registration books. It ran a straw vote in the elections last November and in the Dem. primary, in which it polled 80,000 votes. To enroll in the MFDP and vote a person need only be over 21 and have lived in the county for 2 years. The point of this was to demonstrate how many Negroes would participate in politics if they were given the opportunity to register to vote as easily as people register in non-Southern states.
The MFDP still has this goal, but as you probably know, it is now also engaged in trying to unseat the regular Mississippi Democratic party’s delegation to the National Democratic Convention. The precinct meetings and county conventions of the MFDP exactly parallel those of the regular party; it will also hold district and
Copyright protected. Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required.