Day: October 6, 2020

Honoring Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer, who was born on this date in 1917, was a voting, women’s, and civil rights advocate from Mississippi who shared more wisdom, in fewer words, than just about anyone I have ever studied. Her bio is full of leadership roles and “firsts”: co-founder and vice-chair of the Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Summer along with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and a co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, an organization created to recruit, train, and support women of all races who wish to seek election to government office. These are exceptional achievements for anyone, but Hamer had to overcome steep odds all her life. She was the 20th and last child of sharecroppers Lou Ella and James Townsend, growing up in poverty. At age six Hamer joined her family picking cotton; by age 12, she left school to work. She married Perry Hamer in 1944 and the couple worked on the Mississippi plantation owned by B.D. Marlowe until 1962. Because Hamer was the only worker who could …