27 July 2004

Getting every vote counted

The Freedom delegates came 40 years ago to seek their rights.
Today many see more to do.

Anne-Marie O'Connor - LA Times - July 27, 2004

BOSTON — It was the typical round of Democratic National Convention parties, except the reigning celebrities on this particular evening were not Hollywood stars. They were the elderly members of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom delegation, among the 63 black delegates who traveled to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J., demanding to be seated — just like the official all-white delegation.

The historic civil rights showdown turned into a showcase, dramatizing the delegates' stories of black people being threatened or even murdered for trying to vote.

Forty years later, the issue of voter enfranchisement — and the disputed 2000 elections — was the subject of heated discussion at several parties Sunday night, including an event sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and honoring the Freedom delegation and a tribute to the late Maynard Jackson, a former mayor of Atlanta.

Not since the birth of the pregnant chad has so much casual conversation revolved around the technicalities of the electoral process. As delegates circulated at various parties, members of the caucus and other black leaders discussed how to try to ensure that in 2004 every vote would count.


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