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For a Voice and the Vote: My Journey with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

by Lisa Anderson Todd

Availablepaperback$29.95s 978-0-8131-7756-4
Availablecloth$45.00s 978-0-8131-4715-4
Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century
468 pages  Pubdate: 07/23/2019  6 x 9  34 b&w photos

During the summer of 1964, hundreds of American college students descended on Mississippi to help the state’s African American citizens register to vote. Student organizers, volunteers, and community members canvassed black neighborhoods to organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), a group that sought to give a voice to black Mississippians and demonstrate their will to vote in the face of terror and intimidation.

In For a Voice and the Vote, author Lisa Anderson Todd gives a fascinating insider’s account of her experience volunteering in Greenville, Mississippi, during Freedom Summer, when she participated in organizing the MFDP. Innovative and integrated, the party provided political education, ran candidates for office, and offered participation in local and statewide meetings for blacks who were denied the vote. For Todd, it was an exciting, dangerous, and life-changing experience. Offering the first full account of the group’s five days in Atlantic City, the book draws on primary sources, oral histories, and the author’s personal interviews of individuals who were supporters of the MFDP in 1964.

Lisa Anderson Todd (1942-2015) served as a federal administrative judge for over twenty-two years on the Board of Contract Appeals at NASA and on the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals at the Department of Defense.

Lisa Anderson Todd’s For a Voice and the Vote is an engrossing memoir of a seminal moment in post-World War II United States history. This work is a heartfelt, insightful examination of the challenges, complexities, triumphs, and defeats involved in the arduous struggle to transform conditions in Mississippi, the Democratic Party, and the United States. -- Timothy N. Thurber, author of Republicans and Race: The GOP's Frayed Relationship with African Americans, 1945-1974

The challenge by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to the seating of the regular lily-white Mississippi delegation at the 1964 Democratic Convention has long been recognized as one of the most dramatic and pivotal moments of that most dramatic and pivotal of decades. But until now, no book length treatment of the challenge was available. Happily, Lisa Anderson Todd—herself a volunteer in Mississippi that summer--has now filled that void with her compelling, personal account of those five consequential days in Atlantic City and the impact they had on SNCC, the Democratic Party, and, by extension, the country as a whole. -- Doug McAdam, Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America

For A Voice and a Vote is, quite simply, the most comprehensive and persuasive account of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party's historic challenge to the state's white supremacist delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in 1964. It is also a poignant and provocative memoir of Freedom Summer in Mississippi, seen through the eyes of a young northern white volunteer. Lisa Anderson Todd--participant, observer, and serious scholar--has written an extraordinary book, required reading for all those who care about the promise and possibilities of democracy. -- John Dittmer, Professor Emeritus of History, DePauw University

In For a Voice and the Vote Lisa Anderson Todd skillfully combines her personal story--as a college student volunteering for the 1964 Freedom Summer project—with a scholarly account of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party’s challenge at the Democratic Convention that August. This is an engaging, thoughtful account of history that we all need to know. Black Mississippians working with young people from across the country took their demand for voting rights and political power to the national stage. Though their plea for recognition was rejected, their effort stands as a remarkable moment in democratic promise and it changed fundamentally changed our nation. -- Emilye Crosby, editor of Civil Rights History from the Ground Up