Interview with Lawrence Guyot


Lawrence Guyot:

We had conducted years of registration. We had found that our enemy was twofold; everywhere we moved and tried to move in that state, the Democratic Party was the emen—enemy. Ever since 1877, the whole question of black, white domination of the political apparatus in the state was very immediate. I mean, the peop—blacks, when reconstruction was moved out of the state of Mississippi, it was moved out with blood, and with guns. Blacks were removed from office. All of our enemies were in the Democratic Party. We had no friends in the Republican Party. There was no law that dealt with party registration. I could, you could be a member of any party. I remember the debate, the peop—when we met in Jackson to organize the Freedom Democratic Party it was Frank Smith, Bob White, George Raymond, myself, and Bob Moses. Moses' position was why don't we organize the Freedom Democratic Party, that's the logical extension of everything we've done around the vote, and if we're not successful in Atlantic City, let's disband it. My position was, because of the fact that we don't have a party registration in the state and because of the fact that there's a need to redefine what is politics and what is acceptable political activity, to cover the whole thing, just as is done in African political parties, why don't we continue it regardless of whether or not we're successful in Atlantic City? Because I was chairman of it, uh, we continued it. I think it was a master stroke and I think it created changes within the Democratic Party nationally that wouldn't have occurred for black people but for our existence.