"The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party: Some Personal Reflections."

Leslie Burl McLemore, civil rights activist, educator, and politician, once served as a field secretary for the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and as vice-chairman for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.  Originally from Walls, Mississippi, McLemore earned a bachelor’s degree in social science and economics at Rust College, a master’s degree in political science at Atlanta University, and a PhD in government from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  His dissertation was titled “The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party: A Case Study of Grass-Roots Politics.”  Before teaching at Southern University and Jackson State University, he did postdoc work at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University.  At Jackson State, he became founding chair/professor of political science and Dean of the graduate school.  McLemore helped found the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy in 1997.  Two years later, he became a member of the Jackson City Council, a position he held for a decade.  In 2010, he became interim president of Jackson State University where he introduced a new motto—“Bridge to a Brighter Tomorrow.”  McLemore has served on the Mississippi Municipal League, as chair of the Leadership Training Council of the National League of Cities, and as interim mayor of Jackson.  He is co-editor of Freedom Summer: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017).  In his retirement, McLemore enjoys mentoring and participating in NEH Summer Institutes on the Civil Rights Movement.