Gathering Voices: The Political Advisory Council

The Political Advisory Council of the Savannah branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recommended political candidates for the Black community to vote for. Read an article from our archives that marks the launch of the council. The above image shows a sample ballot distributed to communities in Savannah by the Political Advisory Council in 1972.

Description

This article marks the launch of the Savannah NAACP's Political Advisory Council in 1964, a time critical for civil rights reform in the US. In the article, we can learn the NAACP's definition of bloc voting and the reasons for employing the strategy.

Questions:
1) The NAACP wrote that Black Savannahians must "get together and decide in a truly democratic fashion, the best possible use of our combined voting power." Explain 'combined voting power'.

2) According to the NAACP, why are the local and national* elections of 1964 'vitally important to Negro citizens of Savannah'? *(Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee, opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964).

3) The article states that Hosea Williams, a civil rights leader and voting rights activist, would not follow the Political Advisory Committee. He instead "will continue to vote according to the recommendations of the Political Guidance Committee." What impact could having two bloc voting organizations (the Political Advisory Council and the Political Guidance Committee) have on Savannah's Black community's 'combined voting power'?

4) What do you think about bloc voting? Is it helpful? What if you disagree with some of the candidates that are recommended? Would you still vote for the recommended candidates? How might that impact your community?

Savannah Morning News, Tues., Aug. 25, 1964

Negro Bloc Voting Drive Is Launched

A campaign to encourage bloc voting by local Negroes in the upcoming elections has been launched by a new NAACP sponsored group called the Political Advisory Council.

The council held its first general meeting last night after having elected officers Friday. The meeting was closed to the press.

A letter of invitation to the organizational meeting stated in part: "The local and national elections of 1964 are vitally important to the Negro citizens of Savannah - the local elections because they will for the most part determine who will be in charge of our local government and our day to day business of living; and the national election because the election of Barry Goldwater will pose a threat to all of the hard-won civil liberties that we are just now beginning to enjoy. It is therefore absolutely necessary that we use every bit of our voting power as honestly and sincerely as it is humanly possible to the greatest advantage of Negro Savannahians. In short, we must get together and decide in a truly democratic fashion, the best possible use of our combined voting power..."

Chairman of the new organization is attorney Eugene H. Gadsden. Other officers are the Rev. A. J. Martin, vice chairman; J. Hardy Bennett, treasurer; Mrs. Frances Hunter, secretary, and Mrs. Lucille Brown, reporter.

Negro integration leader Hosea Williams, head of the Chatham Crusade For Voters, said he does not plan to support the new group.

"Any group that desires to organize has a right to do so," said Williams, "and I will not oppose it. I will continue to vote according to recommendations of the Political Guidance Committee."

Gadsden described the Political Advisory Council as "a group of citizens who feel they want to exert some influence in the political arena..."

"Its purpose is to study the issues and the candidates in both the primary and general election and to inform the public as to the result of our studies so that they can intelligently decide how to vote. This is no different from NAACP policies in past years. It has always performed this function in prior elections. Of equal importance will be a vigorous effort on our part to get out the vote in as large numbers as possible..."

Gadsden said after last night's meeting that the first of a series of meetings at which candidates will be invited to speak will be held Monday at 8 p.m. at a place to be chosen later.