Fannie Lou Hamer was an American leader in the civil rights movement born on October 6, 1917. She was famous for being a voting and women’s rights activist and a co-founder of the Freedom Democratic Party, in which she also served as vice-chair. Hamer was passionate about African-American rights and co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus, dedicated to recruiting, training, and supporting women of all races through their quest for election into government offices. Hamer was a visionary, a fighter, and a mother. Her journey and achievements deserve to be celebrated on her birthday today!
Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer
October 6, 1917
March 14, 1977 (age 59)
Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer was a civil rights activist and so much more. Her passion for African-American rights earned her recognition. She was a Libra, born on October 5, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi. Hamer was the last child of her parents, Ella and James Lee Townsend. In 1919, her family moved to Sunflower County, Mississippi, to work as sharecroppers on W.D. Marlow’s plantation. There, she went to school and picked cotton.
In the ‘50s, Hamer became interested in the civil rights movement. In January 1963, she passed the voter’s literacy test after failing twice. Thus, she became a registered voter in the State of Mississippi. However, her voting efforts were truncated by her county’s voting prerequisite of two poll tax receipts. In 1963, she became a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. That year, she was a victim of horrendous police brutality. The beatings she received left her with permanent damage to one kidney. In 1964, she co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate. In 1971, Hamer co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus; in 1972, she was elected as a national party delegate.
Hamer’s life was filled with little yet significant wins for the black community and persecution from the whites. She married Perry Hamer, a former tractor driver on Marlow’s plantation, in 1945. Due to her forced sterilization, Hamer couldn’t bear children, so she and her husband adopted two girls. Hamer suffered complications of hypertension and breast cancer. She died on March 14, 1977, and was buried in her hometown, Ruleville, Mississippi.
Hamer becomes a registered voter in the State of Mississippi.
Hamer co-founds the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (M.F.D.P.).
Hamer co-founds the National Women’s Political Caucus.
Hamer becomes a national party delegate for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
Why We Love Fannie Lou Hamer
She was an activist
Hamer wanted to end the consequences of being black in America. She whole-heartedly fought for the civil rights movement.
She was resilient
Hamer was persecuted physically, mentally, and emotionally by the opposition. However, she never backed down. She was resilient.
She was fearless
Hamer knew the worst thing racists could do was kill her and she didn’t quiver with fear. Instead, she rose daily to fight for the disenfranchised.
5 Surprising Facts
She had 19 siblings
Hamer had 19 siblings and was the 20th child of her parents.
She was shot to death
Hamer was shot 15 times by white racists.
Her daughter died
Hamer lost her daughter to internal hemorrhaging after she was denied healthcare because of Hamer’s activism.
She had forced hysterectomy
A white doctor performed a hysterectomy on Hamer without her consent when she went in to remove a uterine tumor.
She had polio
Hamer had polio as a child.
Fannie Lou Hamer FAQs
What was Fannie Lou Hamer’s role in the civil rights movement?
She helped organize Freedom Summer.
Did Fannie Lou Hamer write a book?
No, but her biography is called “Walk with Me.”
When did African-Americans get the right to vote?
They finally got the right to vote in 1965.
Fannie Lou Hamer’s birthday dates