‘I didn’t try to register for you. I tried to register for me.’

During a discussion about something else entirely, Liprap mentioned water-walking badass voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, which sent me looking to see if her 1962 speech to the DNC credentials committee seeking to be seated as a delegate was online:

SNCC had formed the MFDP to expand black voter registration and challenge the legitimacy of the state’s all-white Democratic Party. MFDP members arrived at the 1964 Democratic National Convention intent on unseating the official Mississippi delegation or, failing that, getting seated with them. On August 22, 1964, Hamer appeared before the convention’s credentials committee and told her story about trying to register to vote in Mississippi. Threatened by the MFDP’s presence at the convention, President Lyndon Johnson quickly preempted Hamer’s televised testimony with an impromptu press conference. But later that night, Hamer’s story was broadcast on all the major networks.

Support came pouring in for the MFDP from across the nation.4 But the MFDP’s bid to win a seat at the Atlantic City convention still failed. At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago four years later the MFDP succeeded. On that occasion, Dubovoy recounts, “Hamer received a thunderous standing ovation when she became the first African American to take her rightful seat as an official delegate at a national-party convention since the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, and the first woman ever from Mississippi.”5

Emphasis mine. Broadcast on all the major networks. Imagine that. I wonder that they didn’t worry it would be inflammatory, and have a panel afterward to discuss whether she went too far in her descriptions of what happened to her, and question her account, and look over her countertops and take a viewer poll on who believed her. I wonder if they should have had someone on, say, to rebut what she was saying.

You know, just for balance.


2 thoughts on “‘I didn’t try to register for you. I tried to register for me.’

  1. As a journalist, do you wish we still had some rule like the Fairness Doctrine in place? Seems to have made a big difference when we did. Just wondered if you ever thought about that.

  2. *sigh*
    I’m old enough to remember when we had a real news media.
    I almost wish I wasn’t; I wouldn’t realize what we’ve lost.

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