We need a mean black cat to run that old rooster out of this county.
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.
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.
Solving a Problem
We’re just solving a problem. We’re moving on. What’s the next issue. Move on. – Courtland Cox