Paige McGinley

Practicing Parallelism: The Freedom Vote of 1963

In November 1963, the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), in cooperation with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), held a massive mock election in Mississippi. Tens of thousands of Black voters, many of whom were disenfranchised by the state, participated, but scholarly and popular histories have tended to pay scant attention to this action. Bringing together performance theory, civil rights-era historiography, and new work in the social sciences, this talk considers the Vote in light of theories and practices of prefigurative politics, wherein activists build “a new world in the shell of the old.”

Paige McGinley is Associate Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, where she directs the graduate program in Theater and Performance Studies. Her book, Staging the Blues: From Tent Shows to Tourism (Duke UP, 2014) was the recipient of the Errol Hill Award and the John W. Frick Book Award.

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