"We Represented the Best of Georgia in Chicago": The Georgia Loyalist Delegate Challenge at the 1968 Democratic National Convention
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In August 1968, a group of dissident Georgia Democrats organized a challenge to the state’s certified delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The challenge began as a protest of the politics of segregationist Governor Lester Maddox by the moderates of the state Democratic Party, but transitioned into a cooperative effort between Georgia’s civil rights and antiwar movement activists to undermine the autocratic influence of party leaders in determining who would represent them at the convention. State representative and civil rights activist Julian Bond led the credentials fight in Chicago that ultimately resulted in the Loyalist challengers earning half the state’s delegates from the party regulars and Bond himself becoming the first African American nominated for Vice President by a major party in the United States. This effort illustrated the Georgia Democratic Party’s bumpy transition from a conservative organization to a liberal one in the second half of the twentieth century. Additionally, the challenge was a significant event in the eventual reformation and democratization of the Democratic Party’s national delegate and presidential candidate selection process.