Police Almost Beat Fannie Lou Hamer to Death For Educating Black People, Plus More Facts

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Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting rights activist Sommer Payne lists things you didnt know about her

Fannie Lou Hamer

Reported by Sommer Payne

You can’t say the words “strength,” “perseverance,” and “courage” without referencing the late Fannie Lou Hamer. Born on October 6, 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi, Hamer spearheaded one of the nation’s most aggressive campaigns to allow African-Americans to vote in peace. 

As of a result of her courageous and resilient efforts, Hamer was beaten, incarcerated, and nearly killed by police. Hamer never allowed any of the aforementioned to discourage her from fighting. Prior to her death in 1977, she was acknowledged by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and inducted as an honorary member.

Although her story has been told over and over by many, below are four things you may not have known about the life and legacy of Fannie Mae Lou:

  1. She picked 200-300 pounds of cotton on a daily basis as a child. Hamer started working with her parents as a sharecropper at the age of six. Sharecropping became such an essential part of survival for she and her family that she was forced to drop out of school in the sixth grade and work full-time. By the age of 13, Hamer picked 200-300 pounds of cotton on a daily basis.
  2. During a time when African-Americans were being killed for voting, she was the first volunteer to register during a rally. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s colleague Rev. James Bevel delivered a sermon that Hamer attended in Ruleville, MS in 1962, he encouraged the congregants to register to vote. During that time, African-Americans in the South who registered to vote were oftentimes beaten, lynched, and/or fired from their jobs. Hamer was the first volunteer. She later said, “I guess if I’d had any sense, I’d have been a little scared – but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do was kill me, and it kinda seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time since I could remember.”
  3. She nearly died after being beaten by police following a literacy workshop. Hamer nearly lost her life upon returning to MS after facilitating a literacy workshop in Charleston, SC in 1963. She spent three days in the hospital, but the injuries she suffered required more than a month of recovery. Despite physical and psychological damage the beating caused, she returned to Mississippi to organize voter registration drives, including the “Freedom Ballot Campaign”and the “Freedom Summer” initiative in 1964.
  4. She strongly believed the Civil Rights Movement was a spiritual one. Hamer was known for infusing gospel music into her efforts. During a voter registration drive to Indianola, MS, Hamer began singing Christian hymns in an effort to resolve the fear others faced as they prepared to register.