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Sunday, February 21, 2016

FANNIE LOU HAMER: ONE OF THE DEFIANT ONES


In 1962, when Hamer was 44 years old, SNCC volunteers came to town and held a voter registration meeting. She was surprised to learn that African-Americans actually had a constitutional right to vote.
Think of Hamer whenever you see
Oprah in Ava DuVernay's "Selma"

When the SNCC members asked for volunteers to go to the courthouse to register to vote, Hamer was the first to raise her hand. This was a dangerous decision. She later reflected, "The only thing they could do to me was to kill me, and it seemed like they'd been trying to do that a little bit at a time ever since I could remember."

When Hamer and others went to the courthouse, they were jailed and beaten by the police.

Hamer's courageous act got her thrown off the plantation where she was a sharecropper. She also began to receive constant death threats and was even shot at. Still, Hamer would not be discouraged. She became a SNCC Field Secretary and traveled around the country speaking and registering people to vote.

She made national headlines after she formed the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and confronted the all white delegates from Mississippi on national television. During that confrontation, she exposed how black people were kept from voting and her speech was broadcast world wide.

In post World War II United States, in a post Hitler world, the United States claim that "All Men Are Created Equal" was being shown as a falsehood and hypocrisy with every image of dogs being sicced on peaceful protesters. White violence and speeches like Hamer's were a national 
embarrassment.

Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcom X, and a whole host of others knew that exposing the United States' hypocrisy again and again would secure the right of black people to be citizens and to vote in reality instead of just on paper.

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