Voting Access Hero – Fannie Mae Hamer
Fannie Mae Hamer (1917-1977) played a vital role in the continued struggle for voting rights for African Americans as well as the Civil Rights movement. Ms. Hamer was born and raised in Mississippi, working the fields as young as the age of 6 and continuing as a sharecropper with her husband in her adult life.
Ms. Hamer joined the voting rights effort in 1962, a time when African Americans were experiencing continuing challenges to their voting rights through barriers to voter registration. She joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), helping blacks learn to read and write so that they could pass their voter registration tests. She faced immediate backlash from her employer, who kicked her off his plantation, and the local KKK for her involvement in these efforts. She helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which registered 60,000 new black voters across the state and demanded black representation to the Democratic Convention. Ms. Hamer was a powerful speaker at the 1964 Democratic Convention in Atlantic City. There, she shared her experiences such as being arrested and brutally beaten in jail, which resulted in permanent injuries. Her testimony helped bring visibility to the treatment blacks received in the South.
The famous quote “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired” came from Ms. Hamer. She was and is revered for her contributions to the voting rights and civil rights movements in this country. When we celebrate Women’s Equality Day this Saturday, we celebrate not just the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, but Fannie Mae Hamer and so many others who carried on the fight for voting rights for all.
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Byline: Lisa Evans Powell – a proud member of Together We Will USA.