Black electoral leaders in the post-civil rights South have exhibited broad agreement on the nature of the political task of displacing unresponsive white elites from power and directing attention to the previously excluded black constituency. There are a few cases, however, in which the commonly expected solidarity and consensus among the black elected leaders has not occurred, despite intensified hostility from the white elite. In this analysis these circumstances are explored from one small town in Mississippi where blacks won nearly total administrative control in 1977. However, the apparent leadership consensus, though fragile, quickly evaporated, due to conflicts of ideology, class, idiosyncrasy, and racial invidiousness. This ultimately led to administrative paralysis in the allocation and management of scarce political goods. In this town where there were broad disagreements between three sets of political contenders, each sought to dominate the policy process by staffing various public positions. The scarcity of these positions, the diametrically opposed goals of the contenders, and the precariousness of the control exerted even by the administrative leadership produced a hopeless struggle. Eventually the government crumbled. Analysis reveals that the complex sociopolitical environment and certain aspects of the political structure contributed to this breakdown. The rapid development of a tripartite leadership cleavage was hardly accommodated by political structures designed to serve the ends of a racial caste system. The fragility of the political environment and the absence of structural mechanisms for conflict resolution severely diminished the ability of the new leaders to perform.