MFDP Congressional Challenge, Legal Phase Ending; Action Begins. The Movement, 1965. Call to Action, MFDP Congressional Challenge, Lawrence Guyot, MFDP. August 1965. Testimony for Congressional Challenge, 1965. Politics of Necessity & Survival in Mississippi. Freedomways, 1966. Oral history, 1966 Interview for Eyes on the Prize Lawrence Guyot's Thoughts, 2012. Interview, 2012.
Lawrence Guyot was born in Pass Christian, Mississippi July 17, 1939. He went to Tougaloo College on a scholarship at age 17, and there he learned that black citizens in most of Mississippi could not register to vote. While in school, he became a SNCC field secretary working throughout Mississippi on voter education and registration. He and other SNCC workers taught local people about voting, its importance, and about election law. He was jailed numerous times, beaten nearly to death, and sent to Parchman Penitentiary with other Civil Rights workers.
In 1962 he directed the voter registration project in Hattiesburg, and was the founding chairman of the of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964. Guyot was an elected delegate to the 1964 Democratic National Convention but attending would have caused forfeiture of a property bond posted to secure his release from jail. However, the delegates who went to the convention were prepared to make their case as to why they represented the ideals of the Democratic Party. Though the MFDP didnt unseat the regulars in 1964, never again was a delegation segregated by either race or sex seated at the Democratic National Convention. Guyot also worked on the 1965 Congressional Challenge to unseat the Mississippi Congressional Delegation. The case made by MFDPs Congressional Challenge was key to the passage of a strong Voting Rights Act. After serving as a delegate of Mississippis first integrated delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1968, he moved to Washington, D.C., graduated from Rutgers Law School, and worked for Washington D.C. where he worked for the city, served as an ANC Commissioner, and has remained a Civil Rights Activist working tirelessly to educate young people about empowerment.