As remembered by Jack Zylman
August 22, 2006
I first met John Hulett in 1968, when the newly formed National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA) had been formed. The NDPA had to be formed because, following the achievement of voting rights in the Selma to Montgomery March, blacks were being refused the right to run for office as Democrats by the George Wallace dominated Alabama Democratic Party.
Under the leadership of Dr. John Cashin, in 1967 we formed a new Democratic Party, in line with the principles of the national party. I was the founding Executive Director. Hulett had run for Sheriff in Lowndes County in 1966 on the Lowndes County Freedom Party ticket, and been beaten, even though blacks were in the majority. Quite simply, blacks wanted to vote in the Democratic Party, not a third party, and that left them in a dilemma.
In many places, blacks filed to run for office as Democrats in 1966 and were turned away. Only one, Lucius Amerson of Macon County, AL, was elected to office in 1966, as Sheriff.
In 1967 the NDPA was looking for a county organization in Lowndes and I suggested the Lowndes County Freedom Party might be interested in joining. Cashin and I went to Lowndes to see Hulett, and their county party became our county organization.
In 1968, the NDPA elected the first blacks to office as Democrats since Reconstruction. Two years later, the NDPA elected the first Democratic Party sheriffs, Hulett in Lowndes and Rev. Tom Gilmore in Greene County.
By 1974, the NDPA had elected over 100 blacks to office, more than any other state n the nation, and the Alabama Democratic Party surrendered and integrated their ballot.
John Hulett served as Sheriff until he retired, then ran for Probate Judge in Lowndes, an office he held for a number of years.
John Hulett took a county full of racist outlaws, dominated by the Ku Klux Klan, and made it a place of peace and racial harmony.
He is one of my heroes and I honor his memory.
Rev. Jack Zylman, Birmingham