Lessons in Black History – FANNIE LOU HAMER

Fannie Lou Hamer—A sharecropper and the youngest of 19 children, Fannie Lou Hamer became a controversial figure in the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s. Known for being equally plain-spoken and out-spoken, Hamer became politically active in 1962 when SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) began encouraging blacks in Mississippi to register vote. Despite the threat of violence and even possible death, Hamer was the first to sign up. A co-founding member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, she incurred the ire of President Johnson when she demanded that members of MFDP be seated at the 1964 Democratic Convention. Johnson was concerned that seating black delegates would alienate Southern whites, who would vote for his Republican adversary. The MFDP was never granted the respect and status they asked for during the 1964 convention, but Hamer was seated at the 1968 convention as an official delegate from Mississippi. She became a vocal opponent to the Vietnam War, and continued to work for a variety of community-based causes until her death in 1977 at the age of 59.

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