LCFO Primer provided courtesy of Dr. Gwen Patton and the Trenholm State Technical College Archives:
Board of Education
In May of 1966, Alabama held primary elections for several county offices. These were the first elections after passage of the Voting Rights Act in August of 1965. For the first time since Reconstruction, Blacks were eligible to vote in significant numbers. At that time, 81% of Lowndes County citizens were Black, but until SNCC freedom fighters began organizing there in the spring of 1965, no Blacks were registered at all, while white registration was 118%. The limited, "share-cropper" education provided by the white-controlled segregated school system did not include civics, government, the Constitution, or other subjects that the school board considered "irrelevant" for Blacks.
When the newly-formed Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) ran candidates for county offices in the May primary elections, they had to teach new voters what the offices were, what they did, and why they were important. Since the so-called, "separate-but-equal" school system ensured that many Blacks had limited ability to read, the LCFO created illustrated Political Education primers on each contested office in "comic" format.
SNCC organizer Gwen Patton, now of Trenholm State College, describes the primer:
The LCFO was a political primer (popular education) for community study groups and candidates running for those particular offices that were closest to the people in terms of duties. Note that the folks in Lowndes County were not interested in "prestigious positions" like state reps/senators. They certainly were not interested in running for any positions in the Democratic Party. Indeed, the folks rejected the Democratic Party and did not want to be a part, nor even challenge the Democratic Party with Governor George C. Wallace and the "white rooster" as its mascot.
It was written in 1966 by the local Black folks in Lowndes County, Alabama and by SNCC organizers on the occasion of the first Black independent party since Reconstruction, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization with the Black Panther as its symbol. Many of the Lowndes County people who voted for the first time in their lives wanted to vote for their people. The candidates were Mr. Sidney Logan for sheriff, Mr. Frank Miles for Tax Collector, Mrs. Alice Moore for Tax Assessor, Emory Ross for Coroner, Mr. Hinson. Mr. Robert Logan and Mrs. Strickland for Board of Education members (3 slots were opened).
One of my first articles ever published [described] the Lowndes County Election Fraud whereby the minority whites stole the election and forced the rural Black people off the land.
[SNCC], spearheaded by Jim Foreman, procured tents. The people for a year were forced to live in the harsh weather in tents with no running water or plumbing. This epoch in our Civil/Voting Rights Movement became known as "Tent City." There is now an Interpretative Center in Lowndes County that depicts this history. The Center is under the auspices of the National Park Service.
Copyright © Dr. Gwendolyn Patton