Victoria Gray was a field secretary in Mississippi for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She was one of the most important figures in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and played a key role in the creation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which eventually replaced the all-white Regular Democratic Party of Mississippi’s segregationist Democrats. Along with Annie Devine and Fannie Lou Hamer she was one of the “Big Three” of the Mississippi Movement.
In 1964 she challenged Senator John Stennis for his Senate Seat. While unsuccessful, this led to the Congressional Challenge of 1965, when together with Fannie Lou Hamer and Annie Devine, she asked the Congress to refuse to seat the Mississippi politicians who had won their seats only because black voters were disenfranchised.
The Congress seated the white politicians, but also warned them to stop the all-white primaries that prohibited participation by black voters. Together with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this Congressional Challenge was a key factor in eventually forcing Mississippi to open its political system to all its citizens, regardless of color.