"Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired"- Fannie Lou Hamer and Malcolm X Speak at Williams Institutional CME Church in Harlem, 1964
In December 1964, Representatives of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party toured Northern cities seeking support for their campaign to block the seating of Mississippi's pro-segregation Congressmen who had been elected through the disfranchisement of black voters. A rally was held at Harlem's CME Church on December 20, 1964 with Malcolm X and Fannie Lou Hamer serving as the chief speakers. Hamer had risen from a sharecropper to a national figure after running for Congress on the bi-racial MFDP ticket which led to her moving testimony before Congress about the brutality she and other African Americans endured when they tried to vote in Mississippi. Hamer's speech is most famous for her oft-quoted line " I am sick and tired of being sick and tired."
Backstory and Context
"And you can always hear this long sob story," Hamer said, "'You know it takes time.' For three hundred years, we've given them time. And I've been tired so long, now I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we want a change. We want a change in this society in America because, you see, we can no longer ignore the facts and getting our children to sing, "Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed." What do we have to hail here? The truth is the only thing going to free us. And you know this whole society is sick."
Malcolm X followed, connecting the Black Freedom Struggle in America to the Mau Mau Revolution and the radical and often violent methods they used to end colonialism in Kenya. "In my opinion," Malcolm X exclaimed, "not only in Mississippi and Alabama, but right here in New York City, you and I can best learn how to get real freedom by studying how Kenyatta brought it to his people in Kenya, and how Odinga helped him, and the excellent job that was done by the Mau Mau freedom fighters. In fact, that's what we need in Mississippi. In Mississippi we need a Mau Mau. In Alabama we need a Mau Mau. In Georgia we need a Mau Mau. Right here in Harlem, in New York City, we need a Mau Mau."