Oct. 6, 1917: Fannie Lou Hamer Was Born

rs. Fannie Lou Hamer speaks before the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, 8/22/1964. Image: Waren K. Leffler, Library of Congress.

Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer speaks before the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, 8/22/1964. Image: Waren K. Leffler, Library of Congress.

Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer was born on this day in 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi. The story of Mrs. Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) should be central to any study of U.S. history. Hamer and thousands more Mississippians took one of the boldest moves ever in U.S. history to fight for a democratic process in national elections.

At the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Hamer’s televised testimony of being forced from her home and brutally beaten (suffering permanent kidney damage) for attempting to exercise her constitutional right to vote gripped the nation. She asked:

Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings?

Read more MDFP’s dramatic challenge to the all-white delegation—and to the nation—about citizenship and political representation in the If We Knew Our History article, “‘Is This America?’: 50 Years Ago Sharecroppers Challenged Mississippi Apartheid, LBJ, and the Nation” by Julian Hipkins III and Deborah Menkart. Here are lessons, films, and readings on Hamer. Read a profile of Hamer at the the One Person, One Vote website.

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