Monday, August 25, 2008

Record number of black delegates

By DeWayne Wickham

DENVER - Forty-four years after a challenge to an all-white delegation from Mississippi roiled its 1964 convention, the Democratic Party has a record number of black delegates attending its quadrennial meeting this year.

Blacks are 24.5 percent of the elected delegates at this convention, an increased of 4 percent over 2004. There are 1,087 black delegates here in Denver, nearly a ten-fold jump over the 120 who attended the Dems 1964 quadrennial meeting in Atlantic City, N.J.

"It shows how the Democratic Party is a big tent that reflects what America is all about," said Patricia Wheeler, the Democratic National Convention's press manager for African American Media.

It was at the Atlantic City convention that Fannie Lou Hamer's Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenged the state's all white delegation. After a heated debate a compromise was reached that gave at-large seats to two members of her group, a small victory for Hamer's who once famously said of her struggle for racial equality that she was "sick and tired of being sick and tired."

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