In Celebration of Black History Month: Fannie Lou Hamer

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Feb. 22, 2024, 1 p.m.
Fannie Lou Hamer – have you heard her name? You’ve most likely heard one of her most famous quotes.
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by Erykah Pasha '24

Fannie Lou Hamer – have you heard her name? You’ve most likely heard one of her most famous quotes: “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Hamer played a pivotal role in the founding of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), and was known for her powerful, plain and persuasive voice, both in speaking truth to power and through singing. Did you know that on August 22, 1964, Hamer went to the Democratic National Convention to demand that the newly formed MFDP delegates be seated on the credentials committee instead of the all-white Mississippi Democratic Party delegates? How did she do this? Simply through relaying her experience trying to register to vote in Mississippi. In her testimony, she spoke of being evicted, jailed and beaten in direct response to her pursuits. She ended with, “Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?” President Lyndon Johnson quickly attempted to cut Hamer’s speech from its national airing, yet most news stations still played her testimony in full later that evening. This is just one among the many stories Fannie Lou Hamer told of her fight for Black voters’ rights. Hamer also played a major role in the creation of the Freedom Farm Collective (FFC) and fighting for land accessibility for Black Americans. Find more on her work on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee website.

The fight of Fannie Lou Hamer is one that is still extremely pertinent today. From giving Hamer her flowers and learning of her story, we can continue to fight for the most disadvantaged within our communities in new and innovative ways. In another one of her famous quotes, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

Read more speeches by Fannie Lou Hamer in the Libraries’ eBook access to The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer : To Tell It Like It Is. And, browse other Black American stories in the Black History Month book display, both online and on the first floor of Bird Library, running through February 29.

The Libraries thanks blog post author Erykah Pasha ‘24 and Dashawn Austin for their work in curating the display, titled “Existing Outside the Lines: The Colors of Resistance.

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