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Archive for September, 2014

Fannie Lou Hamer

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

In 1963 I wondered, “What did Martin Luther King mean, when he said, ‘Free at last’?” because, I thought, “Black people are free, aren’t they?” If you ever thought that way, then read this, please. Fannie Lou Hamer tells you just how “free” a black person was. Was?

Fifty years ago — on August 22, 1964 — a dramatic appeal was made to the Democratic National Party, at its national convention in Atlantic City, to seat African American Mississippians as that state’s delegates to the convention; instead of the all-white, segregationist delegation.

The most powerful testimony was given by Mississippi sharecropper, Fannie Lou Hamer. Her speech — spoken, not read — says volumes about the horrific treatment African Americans have suffered from hundreds of years of slavery, terror and discrimination.

This short introductory video (also at http://video.pbs.org/video/2365269821/) gives the context for Ms. Hamer’s testimony, including how then-President Lyndon Johnson halted the broadcast of Hamer’s entire speech, for fear of its impact on white voters.

And this is the link to her full testimony, as spoken and transcribed:

Fannie Lou Hamer went on to become a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1968-1971, and a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972.

Fannie Lou Hammer died in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, on March 14, 1977. She was 59 years old.

    As we press other nations to have democratic elections, we still see — in the United States of America — attacks against the right for which Fannie Lou Hamer was terrorized, when she dared to seek it, more than 50 years ago.