Fannie Lou Hamer was a force to be reckoned with. Enduring intractable racism, police beatings, and even forced sterilization, she never stopped working for equal voting rights for all. This is the tragic real-life story of Fannie Lou Hamer.
Born on October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi, Fannie Lou, was the 20th and youngest child of Lou Ella and James Townsend. Both Lou Ella and James worked as sharecroppers their entire lives; when Fannie Lou was just six years old, she joined them, despite having endured a bout of polio just a year earlier.
Hamer was eight years old in 1925 when she saw Joe Pullam, a local sharecropper, lynched. In an interview with Jack O’Dell in 1965, she said,
“I remember that until this day and I won’t forget it.”
Poverty forced Hamer to drop out of school at the age of 12, and by the age of 13, she was picking as much as 400 pounds of cotton in a day and receiving $1 for her work. Since Hamer had learned how to read and write during her brief time in school, she also worked as a record keeper on the plantation, and soon discovered just how the owners would cook the books to cheat the poor sharecroppers out of their fair wages.
To offset this, Hamer began secretly tilting the scales to ensure people weren’t cheated. She later recalled,
“I didn’t know what to do and all I could do is rebel in the only way I could rebel.”
Watch this video for more on the tragic real-life story of Fannie Lou Hamer!
Early troubles | 00:18
Forced sterilization | 1:33
Activist | 2:58
Systematic oppression | 4:16
Police brutality | 5:27
The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party | 6:38
Rejecting tokenism | 7:53
Candidate | 8:39
Economic equality | 9:37
Voting rights advocate | 10:51
I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired | 11:47
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