Interview with Erle Johnston
QUESTION 31
INTERVIEWER:

I SEE, OK, NEXT THERE'S ALSO THAT THE COMMISSION HAD FILES ON THE FREEDOM DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND THAT THE MATERIAL WAS USED IN THE EFFORT TO PREVENT THE FREEDOM DEMOCRATIC PARTY FROM BEING SEATED AT THE CONVENTION. CAN YOU GIVE ME A LITTLE BACKGROUND, LEAD ME UP THROUGH THE…

Erle Johnston:

yes, the Freedom Democratic Party was a sort of a, an organization that was formed by blacks who felt like they were not being given a fair treatment in what they called the regular Democratic Party and we knew where the Freedom Democratic Party originated, where it was organized, who were involved and we prepared a presentation for our delegation, from Mississippi to give at the National Democratic Commission, Committee—Convention excuse me, National Democratic Convention. OK, what we tried to show in that report was that the Freedom Democratic Party did not represent the majority of Democrats in Mississippi and consequently did not deserve to be seated over the regular Democrats.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Can I follow up on one thing here? If you could, you can give your answers to Prue on this. You mentioned that the, the Freedom Democratic Party was formed by blacks who felt that they just hadn't been getting a fair shake within the regular Democratic Party in Mississippi. You, can you clarify for me, was it your sense that they, the blacks were getting a fair shake in the regular Democratic Party in Mississippi in 1964?

Erle Johnston:

Well, when you're asking on a personal opinion, I'm not going to get involved in that because after all we were all thinking about the same thing in those days. We had various degrees, we had the, the project[?] of people of which I was one and we had the extremists which I was not, but to try to say that I think they were getting a fair shake, I don't know. If you remember back in those days, there were not many of them even voting. You would have to ask them was it wrong for them not to vote. At that time, there were not many of them voting. Of course, [unintelligible].