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.
1921-1923: A big move
When Hamer was three or four years old, her parents moved the family to Ruleville in nearby Sunflower County to sharecrop on a large cotton plantation. Hamer began working in those fields at age six, adding pennies to the family’s meager earnings. On 14 December 1923, a white lynch mob murdered a local man named Joe Pullen for standing up to his white boss, terrorizing little Fannie Lou and her neighbors. She never forgot him. Image: Picking cotton, Mileston, Mississippi Delta, Mississippi. 1939. Wolcott, Marion Post, 1910-1990, photographer.
Images are from Walk with Me, except where otherwise noted and linked.