Freedom Summer Conference: Black Vote Still an Issue in Mississippi - Higher Education: JACKSON, Miss. ― Last week’s Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference at Tougaloo College brought national attention to the fight for Black voting rights in Mississippi just as a pivotal Republican Senate primary runoff election likely was decided by African-American Democrats.
Conference participants honed in on the significance of the election of Thad Cochran as the Republican nominee, in a closely contested race in which he defeated Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel in a state that resisted integration and Black voting rights long after federal law mandated equality.
Several political analysts broke down the voting patterns in the June 24 runoff compared to the primary, and concluded that Cochran’s well-funded courting of Black Democratic voters paid off. Because of the state’s open primary laws, Democrats were allowed to vote in the Republican runoff if they had not voted in their own party’s primary.