Political Education

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

We need a mean black cat to run that old rooster out of this county.

Lowndes County Freedom Organization campaign flyers, 1966, crmvet.org

While SNCC field secretaries and local people were doing voter registration work in Lowndes, SNCC was exploring possibilities of forming an independent political party in the Black-majority county. Jack Minnis, head of SNCC’s research department, discovered a Reconstruction-era statute allowing for the creation of an independent political party in Alabama on the county level. It was clear that the Democratic Party of Alabama, whose symbol was a white rooster with “White Supremacy, For the Right” inscribed around it, did not stand for the Black residents of Lowndes County. Local people agreed with the idea of forming a new political party to represent their interests, which to the formation of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization in April 1966. They chose a black panther as their symbol.

Lowndes County Freedom Organization

The technicalities of forming a new political party were formidable to begin with, but doing so with people who had been violently disfranchised for decades was even more challenging. So SNCC, as Courtland Cox explained, developed an extensive political education program to get Lowndes County residents up to speed.

You’re Saying Take Over the County

First to get the people who are running for office to see that this is something that can be done. Get them to believe it. Get them to be able to get their community to believe it. – Courtland Cox

The Message We Were Trying to Convey

In order to form a political party, county residents needed to understand the roles of officials like the sheriff and the tax collector. Together, Courtland Cox and Jennifer Lawson developed comic books that broke down the responsibilities in straightforward language and gave people a clear understanding of the duties of these offices.


Tax Collector

Board of Education


We Just Made That Up

Working in the field and putting lives on the line required SNCC organizers to constantly think on their feet in order to solve problems. People brought different skills and resources to the table, all of which were essential for carrying out the work.

Roadside billboard for the Lowndes County Freedom Party designed by Jennifer Lawson, 1966, Jim Peppler Southern Courier Photograph Collection, ADAH

Solving a Problem

We’re just solving a problem. We’re moving on. What’s the next issue. Move on. – Courtland Cox

It Was an Operation

Part 5: Coming Out of Lowndes County