Fannie Lou Hamer was a sharecropper who risked her life to register to vote during the American Civil Rights Movement. Hamer quickly became one of the leaders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and entered the national spotlight when she challenged the leaders of the Democratic Party to address the violence and fraud that prevented Southern African Americans from voting. This small park includes Hamer's gravesite as well as a pavilion and statue that honor her legacy.
“I am sick in tired, come of being sick and tired,” are
some of the most famous words ever spoken by Civil Rights Activists Fannie Lou
Hamer, they are even written on her tombstone located at the . Born in
Montgomery County, Mississippi on October 6, 1917 to a family of sharecroppers,
Fannie started working in the fields at age in six. As the youngest of twenty
children she was forced to drop out of school at age twelve to work in the
fields full time to help her parents. After marrying Perry Hamer in 1944 and moving to Ruleville, Mississippi
to work on a cotton plantation Fannie began to focus on fighting for her rights
along with other African American in her community.
In the summer of 1962, Hamer was encouraged by civil rights
activists at a protest meeting to register to vote. Knowing that this was very
dangerous but had to be done Hamer along with seventeen other African Americans
traveled to the county courthouse in Indianola, Mississippi to register to
vote. As a result of registering to vote Hamer was fired and evicted from her
home on the cotton plantation where she had worked for the past twenty years.
These actions only made Hamer more determined to help other African Americans
exercise their right to vote. According to The New York Times, she
said They kicked me off the plantation, they set me free. It's the best
thing that could happen. Now I can work for my people.
Hamer soon took a job working for the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee an organization who engaged in acts of civil disobedience
to fight racial segregation and injustice in the South. During the course of
her activist career, Hamer was threatened, arrested, beaten, and shot at. In
1963 Hamer was severely injured after being arrested by police after attending
a training workshop in Winona, Mississippi. Hamer was beaten so badly that she
suffered permanent kidney damage.
In 1964, Hamer brought the civil rights struggle in
Mississippi to the attention of the entire nation during a televised session at
the Democratic convention. She then co-founded the Mississippi Freedom
Democratic Party, which was established in opposition to her state's all-white
delegation. After her unsuccessful bid for Mississippi Congress, Hamer worked
to help the poor and families in need in her Mississippi community. She also
set up organizations to increase business opportunities for minorities and to
provide childcare and other family services. In 1971 she helped establish the
National Women's Political Caucus.
Hamer died on March 14, 1977, in
Mound Bayou, Mississippi after a long battle with breast cancer. Without the
efforts of Civil Rights activists like Hamer we would not have equal rights to
vote, opportunities for child care, or assistant programs for our poor. Thanks
to her determination for racial equality African Americans can exercise
guaranteed rights and live in a nation where equal opportunity truly means