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Democrats are holding their 2016 convention in the city where they first rejected Jim Crow

Bev Sykes
Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.
  1. The Democratic National Committee announced today that the party's 2016 convention will be held in Philadelphia on the week of July 25.
  2. The city beat out Brooklyn and Columbus, OH, the other two finalists.

A historic location

Philadelphia is a frequent host to presidential nominating conventions. Six Republican conventions have been held there, including the very first in 1856 and the one at which George W. Bush was nominated in 2000. Democrats have held theirs in Philadelphia twice previously, in 1936 and 1948 (when Republicans picked the city as well).

The 1948 Democratic convention was historic for the adoption of a pro-civil rights platform, pushed by Minneapolis mayor and future Vice President Hubert Humphrey, including "abolition of state poll taxes in federal elections, an anti-lynching law, a permanent fair employment practices committee and desegregation of the armed forces," as Smithsonian Magazine's Alonzo Hamby explains.

"To those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late," Humphrey said in his speech to the convention imploring it to adopt the four civil rights provisions. "To those who say that this civil-rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights."

The platform's adoption spurred the entire Mississippi delegation and half the Alabama delegation to walk out, Hamby notes. Two weeks after the convention, when President Truman followed up the progress made at the convention by desegregating the military and federal civil service, racist Southern Democrats responded by forming the breakaway States' Rights Democratic Party (or "Dixiecrats"), who nominated then-South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond and won four states in that year's election.

It was the beginning of the end of Democrats' complete domination of Southern politics, and the destruction of the segregationist wing of the party that had dominated it since Reconstruction.

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