Long, Hot Summer '64; Episode 10
Long Hot Summer 64, a weekly summary, an in-depth report on the struggle for civil rights. This is Ted Mascott, producer and your host for Long Hot Summer 64. On tonight's program, a report on the recent election held in Tuskegee, Alabama, and the recent developments in the attempts to have the delegation representing the Freedom Democratic Party of Mississippi be seated in place of the regular Democratic Party from that state. First, this phone report received last night from Cindy Chutter of WGBH, from Nashville, Tennessee, with a report on the recent election in Tuskegee, Alabama. [BEGINNING OF CINDY CHUTTER REPORT] "This is Cindy Chutter, speaking from Nashville, Tennessee. Yesterday, August 11th, Ruth Curtis and I went down to Tuskegee, Alabama, and arrived just in time to observe the municipal elections. The drowsy, tranquil town gave no hint of being the center of one of the most critical and exciting elections in the national, civil rights scene. In the first place, it was the first election since the Supreme Court decision in
favor [pause] of the [pause, hesitation] Gomillion versus Lightfoot decision had repudiated the state of Alabama's attempt to gerrymander every one of the city's 4,000 Negroes, but eliminated not a single one, single white, person from the city's voting records. In the second place, it was the first time in recent Alabama history that the Negro registered voters held a majority. There were approximately 1,800 Negroes to 1,000 whites. In the elections themselves, 8 Negroes were running against 4 white candidates for the 5 seats on the mayor's council. There was a strong possibility that the voters would elect al-, an all-Negro city council. The first thing that we discovered about the election was that the Negro candidates and the community were deeply divided. It seemed to be split over the
question of militancy. For what ends should the Negro majority vote be used? We talked to Charles Gomillion, Professor of Socio- at Tuskegee, and President of the Tuskegee Civic Association, the major civil rights group, active in Tuskegee since its founding in 1941. Although Professor Gomillion was not a candidate in the city elections, he had won the Democratic primary nomination for Macon County's Board of Education, one of the first Negroes to hold such such an honor, and as a leading petitioner in the Tuskegee gerrymandering case was wel-, was a well-qualified spokesman. He stressed three important things in, in his discussion with us. The first was that the city elections should be team elections. That an individual was no good unless he could work [unitelligible] with [or?] the council was no good unless it could work together. In the second place, he felt
the city council should be integrated into the state and county political organization. What good would it be, he said, to elect someone who could not or didn't know how to work with existing political structure in Alabama? In third place, he stressed the educational value of the election itself. He noted that for the first time many Negroes were voting. Uh, there was a large number of Negroes who are interested in expressing their opinions, he said, but their knowledge of politics was grossly incorrect. For example, the night before he had been talking with a group of Negroes who were discussing the coming elections and discovered that they were talking about citizens who were not actual candidates but were people with the same name. He said that a good number of Negroes were out
campaigning for the candidates, but he-, they did this without first getting to know what the candidates were standing for. He said it was example of I don't know where I'm going but I'm going there fast. 4 of the 8 Negro candidates running for the city elections represented a sizable section of the Negro community which opposed these views. We talked to representatives of the Negro opposition who had formed what was called the Non-Partisan Voters League of Macon County. They stressed that the reference point of the former group was the white community, that they were still in the stage of tokenism. In contrast to this, they felt that the reference point for the elections had to be the Negro community. They were opposed to the idea of team elections. Said one man, 'The team would be
quarterbacked by Parker,' the president of the local bank. They were also opposed to the idea that city politics must work side-by-side with a state political structure. 'You can't play a plural style of politics,' said one man. 'Was useless to cooperate.' He said 'Cooperation with the White, racial government was cooperation with snakes.' Essentially what these people in the Non-Partisan Voters League were working for was a non-racial community, one that did not stress Negro or White, or stressed cooperation between them, but ignored the problem, ignored the fact that someone was Negro or White and wanted to work for a better community. He said that people tended to grab a slogan like, uh, 'Work together for interracial government,' when they should ask the question of what kind of
interracial government they were working for. Their main policy was to attract business to Tuskegee. They felt that this would, would, increase and improve the economic standards of the town and would also help to eliminate a lot of the, the Negro-White problems. There're a few interesting points to make about the election. For example, I have in front of me a ballot that was handed out by one of the mayorality candidates, uh, C.M. Keever. And there is a list that was put out as an official ballot called Sample of Official Ballots in Municipal Elections. However, there were 4 Negro candidates left, left off this list. These 4
candidates were all members of the Non-, of the more militant, Non-Partisan Voters League. In the election itself, there were 36 poll, paid poll workers, uh, none of whom were Negro. However I think it's fair to point out that in the primary, the Democratic primary held in May, there were Negro, paid Negro, poll workers, which was the first time in this century that that had occurred in Macon County. On the day of the election, the Non-Partisan Voters League had 12 watchers to challenge some 250 to 300 voters whom they suspected of voting illegally, of not living, of living outside the city limits. The election itself was not held at the city hall, but at the armory on the outskirts of town. It... [pause] The armory is near a Negro
community but on the other hand is a long distance from the, a large section of the Negro community, who found it difficult without transportation to walk over there. We wanted to get samples of White attitudes toward the election but that found that this was impossible because Ruth and I were together, and I doubt if any of the White candidates would have spoken with us. But what surprised me, however, was that when we asked various Negroes, no one could tell us, what we asked, what the right White reaction was. No Negro knew the division between the communities was so absolute. The results of the election are known. For 3 of the 5 seats, Negroes were defeated outright. For the remaining 2 seats the Negro candidates have to win at a run-off election to be
held September 15th. It's interesting to note that the 2 Negroes that are still in the running for the city council, Stanley Hugh Smith, who is a Professor of Sociology at Tuskegee Institute, and K.L. Buford, who is a local businessman, were both part of the more moderate Negro community, and both of their names appeared on the sample ballot, the bogus ballot that was tossed out before the campaign. The curious question does remain of why so many Negroes, who had withstood such hardship and personal danger, of, to register to vote did not exercise their newly won right. The most optimistic estimates I saw for, for, um, voting was not more than, than 65 or 75, 70 percent
of the Negro population. It's difficult to say why this was [and?] have to be left for, for other people to, to discover the reasons. But it's probably true that close to 90 percent of the White population did vote. There's still, even if the 2 Negro candidates are allowed to sit on the, on the city council, there're still many problems to be faced in Tuskegee itself. The, uh, Tuskegee High School has been closed since 1963, and there is a strong move to, to have it reopened. And in June of this year, a petition was placed before the courts for [pause and silence] trying to enforce the, uh, inclusion of Negro jurors on the Macon County jurors list. These issues still have to be settled
in the future. Um, you might also be interested in the results of the elections in Fayette County in Tennessee, something that I am not personally, uh, involved in, although this, like the Tuskegee election, was the first county election in Tennessee where the Negroes registered to vote were in a majority. They represent some 68 percent of the population. The, the results of the Fayette County elections, which were held on August [the 6th?] were as disappointing to strong civil rights supporters as the Tuskegee elections were. Uh, here, none of the, the, uh, civil rights workers, or supporters, were reelected. Um, and as a result
many of the, the civil rights workers who had been involved in registering the voters are, have, placed charges of, of voter irregularities in the uh, the election [unintelligible]. Um, the group, headed by Charles Haney of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, um, is charging that among other things, that the Negro poll watchers were ejected from some of the polling places and not allowed inside in others. Also, that more ballots were counted at some precincts than an actual headcount of persons disclosed had voted. In addition some White persons were marking their ballots to the right of the name, not in the box provided. These votes were counted, although illegal. In this way, election officials could tell how the White and Negro vote was split. One polling place in
district, in one district, used different types of ballots. At other precincts, Whites were allowed to vote before Negroes who'd been standing in the line longer. At several polling places Negro voters were not permitted to observe the counting of ballots. This, these charges, will be brought up before the, the courts, and it will be for the judicial system to investigate these charges to see whether, whether there was in fact irregularities in the election in Fayette County where there was a majority of Negro voters, in Tennessee." [END OF CINDY CHUTTER REPORT] That phone report from Cindy Chutter of WGBH received last night. Cindy Chutter and Ruth Curtis, both of WGBH, are spending a two week vacation in the South. Yesterday at the State House in
Boston efforts were made in behalf of the Freedom Democratic Party. Later in tonight's program we will have a report from Washington from a national representative of this movement. Rick Lee of the WGBH staff filed this report last night. [BEGINNING OF RICK LEE REPORT] "This is Rick Lee reporting on the convergence of three streams of political and social effort which took place today. The Massachusetts Democratic Party, led by Gov. Endicott Peabody, was called upon this morning to join the seven other Democratic state delegations who have already publicly indicated their support of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. This was the climax of this morning's proceedings, which began three blocks from the State House, with a press conference given by James Farmer, national chairman of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality. Mr. Farmer began by explaining the reason for his visit to Boston. [Farmer]: 'I am here, as was indicated, to testify before a committee of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, on the seating of the Freedom Democratic Party delegates at the convention and unseating of the regular Democratic Party delegates.
What I shall say before that committee is, briefly, that Massachusetts has a choice to make at the Atlantic City Convention, and that choice is between the racist Democratic Party of Mississippi and the Freedom Democratic Party of Mississippi. This indeed is the choice which the whole Democratic Party has to make. I think that it would be a hollow victory if in November, Goldwater were defeated and Goldwater-ism were allowed to continue to exist in various segments of the Democratic Party. This is the thing that we oppose. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party has become a symbol, a symbol now of the whole civil rights movement, the whole civil rights struggle. A symbol also of the intentions and the integrity of the American nation. Whether we are going to put an end to racism once and for all, so that the thing which happened there a couple of months ago, in the murder of the three civil rights workers, can never again occur, and certainly not with the blessings or under the
purview of the Democratic Party, even of the state of Mississippi. I'd like to indicate furthermore that the regular Democratic Party of Mississippi is not only racist, but is in fact supporting the Goldwater ticket. There was a county fair held in Neshoba County, which is the very county where the three civil rights workers, uh, were originally missing and where their bodies later were found. Among the announced speakers at this fair, which was billed as a political fair, were George Wallace of Alabama, former Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi, and Barry Goldwater, Jr. These were the speakers who were announced for the county fair, uh, in a democratic state of Mississippi.' [Lee]: Asked about the relationship between today's effort and the recent Mississippi tragedy, Mr.
Farmer replied. [Farmer]: 'This is in connection with the murder of the 3 men, 2 of whom were staff members of CORE, Mickey Schwerner and James Chaney. The other one, Andy Goodman, was a student at Queens College in New York who had gone down to Mississippi for the summer.' Why has CORE rejected a proposed moratorium on demonstrations until the election? 'Well, first of all we do not think that a curtailment of demonstrations can or will mollify the White backlashes, and the White backlash. Second, the grievances, against which we have protested in our demonstrations, grievances of discrimination in employment, segregation, and discrimination in housing, the lack of integrated quality schools, still exist. The grievances still exist, therefore the demonstrations need to go on, in protest against those grievances. Now I want to point out,
uh, very firmly that, uh, CORE intends to devote a major part of its efforts, between now and November, to voter registration. We are doing that. CORE chapter here in Boston is working hard on it. CORE chapters through the country, North and South, are doing it, in the ghettos and outside of the ghettos.' How do you understand the meaning of the so-called White backlash? 'What it seems to me has happened is that people who in the past have been apathetic, and have had no firm position on it, have now made up their minds, one way or the other. The bulk of the American people have been somewhere in the middle without any strong feelings. But, in recent months, they Urged by another reporter to amplify that statement, Mr. Farmer went on. 'Well that, uh, is precisely what the White backlash is as far as I'm concerned. I think that it has been overplayed and
overestimated. I seriously doubt that any significant number of persons have changed their views. In other words I doubt that any goodly number of persons who previously were with us or [are?] now against us.' The same reporter, still not satisfied, prompted the following definition. 'Well, as it's generally used, it means, uh, a resistance to the civil rights movement, uh, and it gives the, uh, implication that there are persons who formerly were for civil rights who are now against it. And I deny that. I think that they're apathetic persons who have now made up their minds on our side and others who have made up their minds on the other side. And those on the other side or the, are the, backlashes.' Have recent race riots hurt the cause of civil rights? 'I think there's no question about it. The recent riots, riots always damage the cause of justice and equality. And we are opposed to rioting. We've made it clear, and our CORE chapters in the
the ghettos in New York and elsewhere are hard at work, working literally round the clock, making contact with those youth who are unemployed and unorganized, seeking to provide constructive channels for the redress of their grievances. Seven other states and the District of Columbia have already joined in the struggle. Asked why Massachusetts was chosen to be the eighth, Mr. Farmer replied, 'Well Massachusetts chose itself as the eighth state, yeah. We would have been perfectly happy if Massachusetts had been the first. But I would like to point out now that Massachusetts will not be alone. It will have seven other states backing it up, if it takes such a position as we have recommended.' Is it likely that this effort to persuade the Massachusetts delegation to work to unseat the regular Mississippi Party and support the seating of the Freedom Party will succeed? 'Massachusetts has had a liberal tradition. Furthermore Massachusetts was the home of the abolitionist movement. Massachusetts has had uh, a very
significant role to play in the civil rights movement historically. And I think it would be a tragedy if Massachusetts were not included in that eighth.' Asked to characterize the 1964 presidential election, Mr. Farmer made this statement. 'What Johnson needs now is a very large, a very heavy vote in, um, November. If the Negro citizens feel that they have a real choice, a real alternative, that one party is firmly on their side while the other party is against them, then there will be a large, a very heavy Negro vote. All registered Negroes will go to the polls. While on the other hand if the Negro community feels that, uh, there is, uh, anti-Negro sentiment in the Republican Party, under Goldwater, and that the anti-Negro sentiment in segments of the Democratic Party has not been obliterated, then I fear that there will be a small turnout, and a small turnout would reverberate in Goldwater's favor.' Those were excerpts from a press conference held this
morning in Boston by James Farmer, National Chairman of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality. Just as Mr. Farmer finished speaking, the second effort of the morning was beginning about three blocks away in front of the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill. I spoke with Canon James Breeden, one of the leaders of a silent vigil held in memory of the three murdered civil rights workers in Mississippi. I began by asking why the vigil was called. 'We've called this vigil in order to [stutter] recollect the fact that three civil rights workers were lynched in Mississippi this past month and in order to call attention to the fact that the Democratic delegation to the National Democratic Convention is considering how and whether or not to support the seating of the Freedom Democratic Party in Mississippi.' 'How will that consideration be made?' 'Uh, there is a study commission, committee, that's meeting this morning to hear testimony. Uh, it started just
a few minutes ago. Uh, that study committee will make recommendations to the delegates from Massachusetts at the time of the convention.'" [END OF RICK LEE REPORT] Rick Lee of the WGBH-FM staff in a report he filed last night. This afternoon I spoke with Bill Higgs in Washington, D.C. Mr. Higgs is working with the Freedom Democratic Party on the national level. "If you could give us some idea of the progress that the Freedom Democratic Party is making, uh, in other states of the Union." "Uh, well I don't know about, uh, how some of the other states are going, and I know a lot of pressure, the President apparently has talked to Governor Brown, And, uh, of California, and apparently Governor Brown is 'ginning to have a few second thoughts. However, we have gotten more, more, uh resolution support out of California on the other side, too. So, we don't know there. Uh, apparently the President is putting, you know, some pressure on." "To, uh, keep down this movement." "Yeah.
And of course, the victories by Representative Bass in Tennessee, the defeat of Cliff Davis in Memphis, and Bolling's victory in Kansas City were all good for us. And, uh..." "Yes, in both those cases, they, uh, uh, a Democrat defeated, a, uh, 'nother Democrat who was, uh, a sort of a segregationist." "Uh, and the Civil Rights Bill was the issue frequently." "Um uh." "So, it is kinda hard to say, now, uh. The brief will be, uh, presented to the public, uh, about 6, 5 days from now. Tuesday, at noon, it will be delivered to John Bai [Bailey?], the chairman of the National Committee. Joe Rauh and others have been working on it. And, uh, uh, apparently it's going to be really good. It's printed, it's going to be very nice. And, of course this should have quite an impact. Uh, the, as you know, or as you may not know, uh, the, uh, state, state courts in Mississippi, yesterday issued
an injunction against the Party, for even meeting, or going to Atlantic City, or anything else. Possibility that they may even arrest some of the Party members, uh, before the convention." "If they try to get to the convention?" "Yeah, course that won't stop 'em, I know that. We'll have the delegation there, there's no doubt about that. Now, the hearing apparently's scheduled for around 2 o'clock, uh, Saturday, in Atlantic City." "Saturday, the 30..." "The 22nd I think." "Um uh." "And, uh apparently, each side is to get an hour. To present its case. And apparently, there's gonna be, I hope, I think there's gonna be television, everything else there, so it, it would be a key time for people to be there." "What happens after the Credentials Committee, can they take it to the floor then?" "If we get 11 delegates to vote for it there. We've gotta get 10 percent, to take it to the floor." "Uh huh." "Then the floor fight would come Tuesday night, if we get it, but we got to win this one first." "Are you optimistic?" "Oh, uh,
I think so. Uh, you know it could go either way but, uh, I think you know there are enough factors that could really, uh, put it across. But it's gonna be close." That was the telephone conversation I had late this afternoon with Bill Higgs, who is working for the Freedom Democratic Party on the national level, from Washington D.C. We just have a moment left on tonight's program to read you a letter to the editor from the Jackson Mississippi Clarion-Ledger newspaper, from the edition of last Tuesday, August 11th. Dear Editor, Years ago as a Jew, Jesus Christ walked the hillsides of Israel where he was despised, rejected, and eventually crucified. If he came to Mississippi in 1964, as a Negro, how would we professing Christians receive him? Then spake Jesus unto them and said I was hungry and ye refused me admittance to your restaurants, I was thirsty and ye would not serve me. I was of the minority and ye offered me no friendship.
I craved learning and ye would not let me enter your schools. I was tired but no hotel would receive me. I was your neighbor and ye loved me not. I was a citizen deserving equal rights but ye kept them from me. I paid taxes and went into the service of this country, but the benefits thereof ye gave me none. Ye proclaim that ye worship my Father yet I could not worship with thee. Then they answered him saying Lord, when did we these things unto you? And Jesus answered them. In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Gandhi once said, I love your Christ, but I hate your Christianity. Need I say more? And the letter is signed from a female resident of Clinton, Mississippi. And with that letter to the editor from this past Tuesday's Jackson Mississippi Clarion- Ledger, we come to a close of another edition of Long Hot Summer 64, a weekly summary, an in-depth report, from the civil rights developments in the South and the North.
- Long, Hot Summer '64
- Episode Number
- Episode 10
- Producing Organization
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Contributing Organization
- WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
- AAPB ID
- In the tenth in a series of weekly news reports documenting the civil rights movement during the summer of 1964, Cindy Chutter reports on recent municipal elections in Tuskegee, Alabama, which she observed, and in Fayette, Tennessee, areas in which African Americans registered voters were in the majority for the first time. In both areas, however, election results were disappointing for civil rights supporters. Rick Lee reports on a meeting in the Massachusetts State House in Boston to decide whether the Massachusetts Democratic Party would join seven other state delegations and the delegation from the District of Columbia to support the seating of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) at the upcoming Democratic Party Convention in Atlantic City. National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) James Farmer, in Boston to testify at the State House in favor of seating the MFDP delegates, holds a press conference. In Washington, D.C., Bill Higgs, working with the MFDP on the national level, discusses President Johnson's efforts to keep the MFDP from being seated and reports that state courts in Mississippi have issued injunctions to bar the MFDP from meeting and from going to the convention. The series was produced for the Educational Radio Network.
- African Americans--Civil rights--History; Tuskegee, Alabama; Fayette, Tennessee; Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
- Media type
Announcer: Mascott, Ted
Interviewee: Higgs, Bill
Producer: Mascott, Ted
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Reporter: Lee, Rick
Reporter: Chutter, Cindy
Speaker: Farmer, James
Writer: Mascott, Ted
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 64-0037-08-13-001 (WGBH Item ID)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Long, Hot Summer '64; Episode 10.” 1964-08-13. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 23, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-87brvgm3>.
- APA: Long, Hot Summer '64; Episode 10. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-87brvgm3