Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was born in Montgomery County, Mississippi to Jim and Ella Townsend on October 6, 1917.  Fannie Lou began working in the fields at the age of 6 and witnessed many injustices as a child and throughout her life.  Ms. Hamer went on to become the spirited leader for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) as an alternative to the all white Democratic Party.

Chronology

August 1962 – Attended mass meeting after Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee workers came to Ruleville.  Unsuccessfully attempted to register to vote August 31st Evicted from Marlow plantation.

September 1962 – Sought refuge with friends in Ruleville, and then left for Tallahatchie County after outbreaks of violence.

November 1962 – Returned to Sunflower County, committed to Civil rights activity.

August 22, 1964 – Testified at the credentials committee hearing at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City about how she attempted to register to vote, lost her job, and was later jailed and beaten.  If the MFDP challengers were not seated, she said, “I question America.”

April 23, 1965 – Filed lawsuit, Hamer vs. Campbell, to block elections in several Sunflower County communities on grounds that black voters had not had the opportunity to register.

Fannie Lou Hamer held her light over some of the dark places in the American soul.  She recognized that a web of power had been woven down.  She worked to make people recognize that web, and she tried to sweep it away, to create a fairer balance in society so that for whom she worked might someday be able to say that they were no longer “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  That was her lament in life, and those are the words on the tombstone in a dusty, weedy field in Ruleville.  They remind us of her history and her mission, the latter as yet unfulfilled.  Someday, we must believe commitment will again override fear.