Student Blogger

Breaking Through Barriers with a Triumphant Sound: Fannie Lou Hamer

A brown informational sign reads "Fannie Lou Hamer" at the top. A water tower and a sliver of sky is visible in the background.

In addition to semester-long programs in the United States and abroad, HECUA offers a Race in America: Then and Now, a summer-term program. Race in America is a three-week-long exploration of the Black Freedom Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as current movements for racial and economic equity, based in Jackson, Mississippi. HECUA Race in America alumna and current Hinds Community College Agricultural Sciences major Khiquita Young was kind enough to share her impressions of a few of the stops along the way.  Read on for Khiquita’s impression of the Fannie Lou Hamer Museum.

I had a blast traveling to Ruleville, Mississippi with my HECUA Race in America classmates to visit the Fannie Lou Hamer Museum. The museum, displaying Fannie Lou Hamer’s vision and mission for African-Americans rights in the state of Mississippi, was phenomenal. I learned a great deal about Hamer’s background. She was an African-American sharecropper, and lived with her husband Perry “Pap” Hamer on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta. Hamer’s father and mother were sharecroppers who grew and picked cotton in the south of Mississippi. She was the 20th child of 14 brothers and six sisters.

Hamer was not able to have children of her own, and later in her life she and her husband adopted two daughters. She focused on being a hard worker, wife, and mother, while still desperately desiring change. Hamer was 44 when she and her family were removed from the plantation where they lived after they attempted to register to vote.

A large stone placard reads, "Fannie Lou Hamer, Voting and Civil Rights Pioneer."

A plaque on the Fannie Lou Hamer Museum grounds. 

Hamer was disgusted by this mistreatment, and the United States’ unequal treatment of African-Americans. Hamer fought tirelessly to encourage African-Americans to vote. She is perhaps best known for a speech given during the 1964 Democratic National Convention, when she said, “All my life I’ve been sick and tired. Now I’m sick of tired of being sick and tired.”

Hamer founded the “Freedom Farm Corporation”, “Pig Bank,” and a daycare facility for African-Americans in the South of Ruleville, Mississippi. She purchased land for African-Americans who were removed from plantations due to voting. She taught and practiced sustainable agriculture. She established a community that operated as a village to aid African-Americans to live as free people.

Learning about Fannie Lou Hamer’s accomplishments and history, I felt empowered. She fought in several organizations, such as the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, Freedom Summer, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Hamer gave African-Americans hope, sustainability, and wealth.

A woman with bright red hair, in green capris and a white shirt, stands just to the right of a cast bronze statue of civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer.

Khiquita with a statue of Fannie Lou Hamer. 

I’ve also visited the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial, where she and husband “Pap” Hamer were laid to rest. Hamer’s last battle was with cancer and she fought it to end. She was only 60 when she died.

To this day, Hamer’s loud voice still calls for African-Americans to vote as a spirit in the atmosphere. The voice of Fannie Lou Hamer will never die, but forever lives on. She was a remarkable fighter with a triumphant, sounding voice, and she brought forth a momentous change.

I felt honored to visit this profound and heroic site with HECUA, and overwhelmed with positivity. As an African-American, I am so impressed that Hamer, as a passionate leader, could speak life for those who remain silent. A courageous and humble vessel can fight an amazing fight to the end, until victory is won. Servitude is a magnificent act to those who have compassion for others, rather than themselves.

A cluster of students stand gathered around a bronze statue of Fannie Lou Hamer.

Race in America students and field speakers. 

To learn more about HECUA’s Race in America summer program, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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