Tougaloo College Receives Grant to Finally Tell Story of Civil Rights Hero Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer speaks to Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party sympathizers outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17, 1965. (William J. Smith/AP Images)
Of all the stories from the civil rights era, perhaps the most extraordinary and least told tale is that of the icon and freedom fighter Fannie Lou Hamer. An upcoming documentary will finally tell Hamer’s stirring story in her own words, thanks to a historic grant by the Kellogg Foundation to Mississippi’s Tougaloo College.
Known for bringing the spirituals she sang while picking cotton to the freedom struggle, Hamer was reportedly the first person to sign up to travel around the state of Mississippi to register black voters after hearing a speech in 1962. A few months later, she was beaten by Winona, Miss., police officers so badly that it took her two months to recover. Even though the beating left her with physical and psychological side effects, Hamer was not deterred.
But it was the “Freedom Summer” of 1964 that made Hamer a legend. At the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Hamer led a group called the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to the floor of the convention and claimed that they were the rightful delegates for Mississippi’s Democratic Party because they were the only ones elected without a discriminatory ballot.
Tougaloo College was awarded a grant by the Kellogg Foundation as a financial partner in the film because of the HBCU’s long history of involvement with the civil rights fight. The money not only will help fund the film but will also go toward developing a K-12 civil rights curriculum for the state.
Fannie Lou Hamer’s America will tell the story of how this hero overcame brutality, poverty and injustice to lead her people to freedom. When asked why she was so fearless in her pursuit of freedom, Hamer said:
I guess if I’d had any sense, I’d have been a little scared—but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do was kill me, and it kinda seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time since I could remember.
Find out more about the upcoming documentary here.
and a song with a message for all…
THE ROOT & YouTube: https://www.theroot.com/tag/news