Between 1944 and 1965, the Southern Black vote steadily grew in size and relevance. Yet little research has sought to untangle the ways in which Southern White candidates mobilized these voters, and whether Southern Whites played any role in advancing Black political participation prior to the Voting Rights Act. This paper examines the impact of cross-racial mobilization on African American political participation in the context of 1950s Florida and the covert means by which candidates courted the Black vote in the pre-Voting Rights Act (VRA) period. We define cross-racial mobilization (CRM) as conscious race-targeted mobilization of blocs of voters of one racial group by politicians and campaign operatives of another racial group. However, we maintain that during the pre-VRA period cross-racial mobilization was often done in an indirect fashion in the South to avoid the alienation of White voters who still dominaled the electorate. We define this form of indirect mobilization as covert cross-racial mobilization (CCRM). Candidates engaged in CCRM through three different channels: by providing monetary support to labor and other groups who would in turn mobilize the Black vote, by giving speeches in Black churches, and through communication with the Black community via African-American radio and newspapers.

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