Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer, 1917-1977

Fannie Lou Hamer, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14 in.

Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting and women’s rights activist, community organizer, and a leader in the civil rights movement. Hamer organized Mississippi’s Freedom Summer along with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1963 while attending a pro-citizenship conference by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Charleston, South Carolina, Hamer and others on their bus were arrested for not calling an office ‘sir’. Hamer was then taken to a jail cell where two inmates were ordered, by the state trooper, to beat her using a blackjack. It was an almost fatal beating. When she attempted to resist, she stated an officer, “walked over, took my dress, pulled it up over my shoulders, leaving my body exposed to five men”. She was hospitalized for a month and suffered permanent injury from the beating.

Despite this, Hamer continued as a political activist. She was the co-founder and vice-chair of the Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. She was also a co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, an organization created to recruit, train, and support women of all races who wish to seek election to government office. In 1964, Hamer ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Links for additional information on Fannie Lou Hamer:

Women’s History Museum


And a video about her