People & Spaces 13 - 15 Years16 and up9 - 12 Years

Fannie Lou Hamer: The Voice Of Freedom For The Downtrodden

 

Born in the South of the U.S.A, Fanny’s young life was one of deep struggle and deprivation. She worked in cotton fields and went to school in the off-months. She loved reading and learning, but she had little opportunity to follow her dreams.

She did go on to open the door for several African Americans by working for equal voting rights and civil rights. She was instrumental in organising the 1964 Freedom Summer African-American voter registration drive in her native Mississippi. Threats, beatings and shooting could not stop her from her fight for dignity and rights that she believed were due to Afro-Americans like her.

In 1962, Hamer tried to register herself in the voting list along with 17 others. They were stopped and all attempts were made to stop them from registering. The two, Fannie being one who made it past were failed on their literacy test. Fannie was outraged but not surprised. She and her people had been continuously denied their rights for generations, and they had suffered quietly. But not Fannie. She started to speak against this injustice, even though it cost her her livelihood.

Fannie soon joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and started her days of activism. The $10 stipend she got from the SNCC sustained her two daughters and her, only barely. But Fannie simply would not stop.

She worked in earnest to stop segregation (separating the black population from the white) and voter registration of black people. She worked relentlessly collecting donations so that more people could be helped and vote!

She went to to stand as a candidate for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party or MFDP  in the elections. Though she was defeated, she had opened the doors for the segregated population. Her famous lines during her speeches to seek votes was:

We are sick and tired of being sick and tired

Fannie spoke for the poorest, the disenfranchised and the dispossessed and she did so with the strength of spirit and her cause. She energised people on both sides to come together and fight for an America that was truly equal and fair. She spoke time and again against injustice and became the voice for many who had lost it.

Deeply religious, Fannie believed God helped those who helped themselves, as is evinced in her words.

You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something God is not going to put it into your lap.

She continues to be an inspiration for people all over the world who fight for civil rights.

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