Pictured are the key leaders of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), a political party organized in 1944 to open the South Carolina Democratic Party to African Americans. (Image courtesy of South Caroliniana Library)
The Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) and the Fight for Black Political Power
In May 1944, Lighthouse and Informer editor John H. McCray organized the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) to contest the validity of South Carolina’s lily-white delegation at the national Democratic Party convention. Two months later, PDP delegates pleaded their case but were rejected. Over the next decade, the party waged similar protests and nominated several candidates for statewide office including Lighthouse co-editor Osceola McKaine and Charleston NAACP branch chairman Arthur J. Clement, Jr., who became the state’s first black Democratic candidate for Congress in 1950.