Civil Rights and Protests

Race Riots

Why was Fannie Lou Hamer important in the Civil Rights Movement?

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), of Ruleville, Mississippi, was a voting rights activist and civil rights leader. She was known for singing hymns and believed that the fight for civil rights was a deeply spiritual struggle; this belief no doubt helped her endure attacks, such as being falsely arrested, jailed, and beaten in 1963. In addition, she attempted to vote, but met with immediate opposition and was fired from her plantation job. Her deep commitment had become known to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), who recruited her to join the group. She became a registered voter in 1963, when she was a field secretary for SNCC. Hamer led voter registration drives and worked with programs to aid deprived black families in the state. In that year, as well, she was instrumental in establishing the Delta Ministry. She then helped to found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and became one of its delegates to the Democratic National Convention that gained national press for challenging the seating of the existing all-white, anti-civil rights delegation from Mississippi. Hamer’s address before the national convention was broadcast nationwide. Later, she founded the Freedom Farms Corporation (FFC) to help the needy raise food and livestock, provide social services, support business opportunities, and aid education.


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