Indomitable physical courage, moral strength, and Christian conviction marked the life of Fannie Lou Hamer. Yesterday Lynne and I visited her gravesite at Ruleville in the Mississippi Delta.
Mrs. Hamer came to national prominence when she addressed the 1964 Democratic National Convention Credentials Committee. She described the imprisonment and brutal beating she endured during the 1963 summer voter registration drive. Watch a brief historical introduction and then listen to her eight minute speech.
The youngest of twenty children, her family were sharecroppers. Her attempt to register to vote in 1962 led to the firing of her and her husband from the plantation where she had worked for eighteen years.
Her gravesite is located in the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden. A few hundred yards to the west is the Fannie Lou Hamer Museum. Visitors should leave at least an hour to tour the exhibits.
She said, “I’m never sure when I leave home whether I’ll make it back or not . . . but if I fall, I fall five feet and four inches forward and I’m not backing off it!” Her plaintive epitaph reads: “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Charles March’s God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights includes a brief biography of Fannie Lou Hamer. He observes that “the church had sustained her wearied spirit when all other institutions had served contrary purposes” (13).
Two and one half hours northwest of Jackson, I encourage RTS students to visit the Garden and Museum.