Gathering Voices: The Bloc Vote Strategy

Bloc voting is a political strategy where citizens of a community choose common candidates. In the 1960's, groups like the Political Guidance Committee and the Political Advisory Council gave Savannah's Black community recommendations for who to vote for. Read a newspaper article from our archives that stresses the importance of the bloc vote. The above image shows Democratic party primary candidates for a Savannah election in 1964.

Description

In this newspaper article, Rep. Clarence Mitchell III, a Black state congressman for Maryland, stresses the importance of Black communities employing bloc voting strategies in a talk to the Savannah branch of the NAACP.

Questions:
1) How does a politician become elected to office in your city?

2) In a democratic system that elects a politician with the most votes, why would Rep. Mitchell say, "A politician only recognizes those people who are organized"?

3) Is bloc voting still used today? Can you give an example of a group or community that recommends political candidates?

4) Rep. Mitchell speaking in 1963, believed that Black citizens should believe that they can hold any political position. How do you think he felt to see Barack Obama as the first Black US president in 2008? Why?

Savannah Evening Press, Monday, Aug. 26, 1963

Bloc Vote Importance Emphasized

Importance of the bloc vote was stressed in a talk yesterday to the Savannah branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People by a Negro elected to the Maryland state legislature at the age of 22.

"A politician only recognizes those people who are organized," said Rep. Clarence Mitchell III of Baltimore.

Mitchell, son of a prominent NAACP official, said the heavy voter registration in Baltimore influenced enactment of city and state public accomodations laws.

Mitchell said he was elected to the legislature in 1962 following a campaign managed by his brother Michael, 17. Negroes should not think any public office is beyond their attainment, he said. "It's quite possible that a future governor of Georgia is sitting right here in this room, but you've got to believe it," he said.

The speaker was introduced by W. W. Law, president of the NAACP Savannah branch.

Henry Holmes, co-chairman of the local delegation to the march in Washington, said the Savannahnians will leave at 9:05 p.m. tomorrow and arrive in the capital early Wednesday morning. They are scheduled to leave Washington at 7:15 p.m. that night and return to Savannah at 5:30 a.m. Thursday Law urged them to bring a supply of food and water.