Today is 40 years after her death, ASKiNG RADiO Senior Reporter, KiNG JAMES YiYE writes on the life and times of this Civil Rights Activist and Philanthropist.
A great woman who was born to struggle, struggle so that others would be free. Let’s first look at Fannie’s favourite quotes:
- “One day I know the struggle will change. There’s got to be a change—not only for Mississippi, not only for the people in the United States, but people all over the world.”
- “You don’t run away from problems—you just face them.”
- “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
- “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
- “I feel sorry for anybody that could let hate wrap them up. Ain’t no such thing as I can hate anybody and hope to see God’s face.”
Who is Fannie Lou Hamer?
Fannie Lou Hamer was born on October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi. In 1962, she met civil rights activists who encouraged blacks to register to vote, and soon became active in helping. Hamer also worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which fought racial segregation and injustice in the South. In 1964, she helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Hamer died in 1977.
Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer was born Fannie Lou Townsend on October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi. She was the youngest of 20 children. Her parents were sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta area. Hamer began working the fields when she was only 6 years old.
Around the age of 12, Hamer dropped out of school in order to work full-time and help out her family. She continued to be a share cropper after her 1944 marriage to Perry “Pap” Hamer. The couple worked on a cotton plantation near Ruleville, Mississippi. They were unable to have children after Hamer had a surgery to remove a tumor. During the operation, her surgeon gave Hamer a hysterectomy without her consent.
Civil Rights Activist
In the summer of 1962, Hamer made a life-changing decision to attend a protest meeting. She met civil rights activists there who were there to encourage African Americans to register to vote. Hamer was one of a small group of African Americans in her area who decided to register themselves. On August 31, 1962, she traveled with 17 others to the county courthouse in Indianola to accomplish this goal. They encountered opposition from local and state law enforcement along the way.
Death and Legacy
In 1976, Hamer was diagnosed with breast cancer. She continued to fight for civil rights, despite her illness. Hamer died on March 14, 1977, in a hospital in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Hundreds crowded into a Ruleville church to say good-bye to this tireless champion for racial equality. Andrew Young Jr., then a U.S. delegate to the United Nations, gave the eulogy at Hamer’s funeral. He explained, “None of us would be where we are today had she not been here then,” according to The New York Times. Young said that the progress of the Civil Rights Movement had been made through “the sweat and blood” of activists like Hamer. On her tombstone is written one of her most famous quotes: “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”