Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1979)
Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
Fannie Lou Hamer was born October 6, 1917 in the Mississippi Delta. Inspired by the fighting spirit of her mother, Fannie Lou Hamer became widely known as the “Spirit” of the Civil Rights movement. In the early 1960’s a Black man or woman could lose their life trying to register to vote in some towns in Mississippi. But even at the risk of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer registered to vote. Because she encouraged others to do so, Fannie Lou Hamer was evicted from the farm where she lived and her husband was fired. Although neither her husband nor Fannie Lou could find work, they continued to organize people to register to vote. She helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which went to the 1964 Democratic National Convention and challenged the all-white Mississippi delegation. Because of these efforts an integrated delegation was eventually seated in 1968. Fannie Lou Hamer also organized cooperatives to fight hunger and joblessness. The cooperative movement allowed Blacks to leave the plantations where they were sharecroppers and set up their own farms in a cooperative manner where they profited from the farms together.