members viewed gaining the right to vote as a significant move
towards racial equality in the South. If blacks had the power
of the vote, SNCC felt they would have influence over many important
aspects of southern politics. SNCC organized the Freedom Ballot
in the fall of 1963 in the state of Mississippi, where racial
discrimination was the strongest and black voting power was the
weakest. The Freedom Ballot was a mock election to get the vote
for poor southern blacks.
was a statewide attempt to demonstrate the discrimination poor
blacks faced in politics. There were two volunteer candidates,
Aaron Henry, a black NAACP leader from Clarksdale, and Edwin King,
a white man well known in the state for his active involvement
in the civil rights movement. The Freedom Ballot platform called
for an end to segregation, fair employment, better schools and
a guaranteed right to vote.
from Stanford and Yale came to work on the Freedom Ballot, joining
forty SNCC members. Many of the white northern students were attacked
and beaten by Mississippi whites, calling them "outside agitators."
Despite some arrests of campaign workers and protests of whites,
the Freedom Ballot was a success. Nearly 80,000 blacks came out
to vote, four times the number of blacks registered to vote in
the state. Bob Moses said that the Freedom Ballot had shown what
SNCC had hoped it would show, that Blacks would vote if given