Born in 1917, Hamer worked in the fields of Mississippi from the time she was six-years-old and she had only a sixth grade education. She participated in meetings of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, where speakers spoke of self-help, civil rights, and voting rights.
In 1962, Hamer began working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) registering Black voters in the South. She and her family were kicked off the land they had been working for over 20 years because she dared to help Black folks to vote. SNCC hired her as a field secretary. Hamer was able to register to vote for the first time in her life in 1963. She taught others what they'd need to know to pass the then-required literacy test, which had to be passed in order for African Americans to be able to vote.
After being charged with disorderly conduct for not following a restaurant’s "whites only" policy, Hamer was beaten so badly in jail that she was permanently disabled.
African Americans were excluded from the Mississippi Democratic Party, so the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) was formed, with Hamer as a founding member and vice president. The MFDP sent an alternate delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. They sent 64 Black and four white delegates. Hamer spoke to the convention about the violence and racism faced by Black voters who tried to register to vote. Millions of people from around the country heard the impassioned speech of this great freedom fighter. As a result of the work of Fannie Lou Hamer and others, President Lyndon Johnson signed the voting rights act in 1965, which allowed all American citizens the right to vote.
WE WIN Institute has implemented an innovative summer program at Zion Baptist Church on the Northside of Minneaplis and their Southside location on 38th street in Minneapolis. Serving over 80 children, in their 10-week program, children have learned about the work of Hamer and how her accomplishments created a better way of life for African Americans and created a foundation for the United States to have its first Black president, Barak Obama.
For the last 10 years WE WIN has done extraordinary work in teaching African American youth about their rich culture and history. Through the use of licensed teachers, African dancers, drummers, photographers, artists and computer experts, children in WE WIN’s programs have been able to gain a plethora of knowledge grounded in their rich cultural traditions.
On Tuesday, August 18, WE WIN will have an Open House at 3805 Third Avenue South to showcase the work of their students over the summer.For more information (612) 721-2364.
Fifth grade student David Walker essay demonstrates his understanding of Fannie Lou Hamer.
Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer was born in Mississippi in 1917. Fannie’s mother was short, Black and poor. She was also tough. She never let anyone mess with her babies. A person could be big, rich and white, but if they messed with her babies they would have to mess with mama.
One day Fannie was playing in the field at the age of six. Her mother’s boss made a deal with her. The deal was that if Fannie could pick 30 pounds of cotton, she could go to the store with him and get anything she wanted. She did it. Fannie didn’t know that the man had tricked her and from the age of six she had to work in the field with no treats.
When she grew older she met a man named Pap Hamer. They got married in 1945. One day in 1962 Fannie woke up and went to Ruleville, MS to register to vote. Because she did that Pap and Fannie lost their jobs.
One time on the bus in Winona, MS, Fannie and a group of Blacks got arrested. The police made the other Black prisoners beat Fannie with a solid lead blackjack. She would never forget the pain and hunger she knew most of her life. She started the Freedom Farm for poor Black and white people to come so they would never go hungry.
Fannie Lou Hamer was a great woman. I learned to stand up for myself and be the best person I can be. She is my she-roe.