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Black Activists - Fannie Lou Hamer

Updated on February 22, 2012

"I am sick and tired of being sick and tired." – Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was born October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi and died March 14, 1977 in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Hamer was born to sharecroppers and began working the fields at a very early age. After attending a protest meeting Hamer’s life would change and she quickly became a civil rights activist. Hamer started with registering African Americans to vote and continued throughout her life working with several different organizations on many different topics. Hamer worked tirelessly for her community and her country. Hamer was a strong voice for civil rights and her messages were very clear.

Early Life

Fannie Lou Hamer was the daughter of sharecroppers and the granddaughter of a slave. Hamer was the youngest of 20 children and began working the cotton fields at an early age. Hamer’s family struggled financially and often went hungry. Because of this Hamer dropped out of school at age twelve so she could work full time to help support her family. When Hamer was old enough she left her home and sharecropping behind. Once Hamer left home she focused desegregation and civil rights. Hamer was a true activist and a great spirit.

Fannie Lou Hamer decided to attend a protest meeting and this small action changed her life. At the meeting she met several civil rights activists who were encouraging African Americans to register to vote. Hamer immediately started helping with the voter registration efforts. Hamer also worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee fighting racial segregation through civil disobedience. During this time Hamer was never deterred from her efforts even though she was shot at, beaten and arrested. Hamer was most known for singing Christian hymns to the people in her group to help bolster their resolve during difficult times. At one point Hamer and a group she was with was falsely arrested and jailed. During this time Hamer and her colleagues were brutally beaten some so badly that they were near death. After being released from jail it took Hamer over a month to recover from her injuries both physically and mentally. Hamer never wavered and continued to fight for civil rights.
Later Life

Fannie Lou Hamer was elected vice chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP); a party that challenged the state’s all-white and anti-civil rights delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Because of national exposure for testimony given by Hamer the MFDP received thousands of calls and letters in support of their organization. This was a true turning point for the party. Hamer continued to work for civil rights causes and the MFDP. Hamer ran for Congress and was seated as a member of Mississippi’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Hamer never stopped working for civil rights causes and continued on until her untimely death.

Fannie Lou Hamer was a very strong woman. Hamer endured so much throughout her life but still stayed on task. From working in the cotton fields to being the vice chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Hamer fought for what she believed in. Hamer received numerous accolades and awards and several songs were written in honor of Hamer including an opera. Hamer was considered a mother figure by her younger colleagues as well as true spirit especially with the Christian hymns she sang. Hamer stayed strong in the midst of adversity and negativity.


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    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 5 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Bilrrr! I am learning so much.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 5 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks for this item. I had hot heard of her before and I am glad to have learned of her work.