NAME: Fannie Lou Hamer
DATE OF BIRTH: October 6, 1917
PLACE OF BIRTH: Montgomery County, Mississippi
DATE OF DEATH: March 14, 1977
PLACE OF DEATH: Ruleville, Mississippi
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Fannie Lou was the twentieth child to parents Jim and Lou Ella Townsend. As sharecroppers working for area farms, the Townsends saved money to buy a farm and mules of their own. However, a malicious white neighbor poisoned their animals to prevent the family from attaining financial freedom. While working on a cotton plantation, Fannie met and married Parry Hamer, a tractor driver on the same plantation.
EDUCATION: Fannie worked as a record keeper after the family she worked for discovered she was literate.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Fannie Lou Hamer is well known a fighter in the American Civil Rights Movement. Despite the prevailing literacy laws, she fought for the right to vote in 1962 as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Fannie believed that Black Americans needed to be educated on various aspects of economics and politics in order to be more successful. She not only championed for rights to vote but also fought against the pervasive poverty in the Black community. She promoted economic assistance for Black Americans. One of her projects was Freedom Farms Corporation; she founded this land coop with the intention of having poor farmers eventually purchase a stake in this land.
Fannie is well-respected for founding the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. The Democratic Party of Mississippi did not allow Blacks. With the founding of this party, they challenged the all-white makeup of political candidates at the 1964 Democratic Convention. She herself ran for Congress but failed because the prevailing party of the day did not permit her name to be placed on the ballot. However, she received more votes outside of the ballot than did her opponent.
During the last decade of her life, Fannie was recognized by various national organizations and colleges for her groundbreaking work on behalf of Black Americans.
Lamb, Brian. Booknotes: Life Stories: Notable Biographers on the
People Who Shaped America. New York: Times Books,1999. [920.02
Booknotes Lakewood Public Library]
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