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The activism of Fannie Lou Hamer: a timeline

Fannie Lou Hamer was a galvanizing force of the Civil Rights movement, using her voice to advance voting rights and representation for Black Americans throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Faced with eviction, arrests, and abuse at the hands of white doctors, policemen, and others, Hamer stayed true to her faith and her conviction in non-violent progress. She helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, ran for Congress, and was one of the first three Black women in American history to be seated on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Hamer dedicated herself fully as a grassroots organizer of the Civil Rights movement, inspiring countless activists and pushing progress forward. This is her story. 

1924-1929: Education

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Local segregated schools for Black children were only open a few months during the year, when cotton production slowed. Hamer’s one room school house lacked insulation and running water. Children suffered from lack of winter clothing, and empty stomachs made learning difficult. Despite these challenges, Hamer was a gifted student and the pride of her family and community. Her singing in church earned her accolades throughout the region. Image: Hamer inspiring tired protestors with her singing during the March Against Fear. Photo by Jim Peppler, courtesy Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Images are from Walk with Me, except where otherwise noted and linked.

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