Day -509 — Daily Haibun Journey — Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist and fought ardently for voting rights. Fannie was one the youngest of 20 children born to sharecroppers. By sixth grade she had to quit school to pick cotton on the plantation. Hamer’s awareness of the unfairness of the Jim Crow rules of the south, when at age eight she witnessed the lynching of another sharecropper. He was lynched for speaking out when he spoke out about not being paid for his week of work.

It was not until she was 44 that she learned she had the right to vote. Then came her battle to be able to register because of voter suppression. She was rewarded for trying to register to vote by being fired from her job. She worked tirelessly for her right to vote and those of others.

She co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and spoke at the Credentials Committee, calling for mandatory integrated state delegations.

When Hamer spoke before the Credentials Committee, President Lyndon Johnson didn’t want her to have any airtimes and held a televised press conference at the same time. Hamer’s poignant speech descriptions of racial prejudice in the South, was televised later. By 1968, Her vision for racial parity in delegations had become a reality. Hamer became a member of Mississippi’s first integrated delegation. She understood the power of the vote and was not afraid to fight for it.