Hamer, Fannie Lou, 1917-1977

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Fannie Lou Hamer was born Fannie Lou Townsend on October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi. She was a voting and women's rights activist, community organizer, and a leader in the civil rights movement. She was the co-founder and vice-chair of the Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Hamer also organized Mississippi's Freedom Summer along with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). 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.

Hamer began civil rights activism in 1962, continuing until her health declined nine years later. She was known for her use of spiritual hymnals and quotes and her resilience in leading the civil rights movement for black women in Mississippi. She was extorted, threatened, harassed, shot at, and assaulted by white supremacists and police while trying to register for and exercise her right to vote. She later helped and encouraged thousands of African-Americans in Mississippi to become registered voters, and helped hundreds of disenfranchised people in her area through her work in programs like the Freedom Farm Cooperative. She unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1964 and the Mississippi State Senate in 1971. In 1970 she led legal action against the government of Sunflower County, Mississippi, for continued illegal segregation.

Hamer died on March 14, 1977, aged 59, in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Her memorial service was widely attended and her eulogy was delivered by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young. She was posthumously inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Phyllis J. Hudson Collection Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries,
referencedIn Anne Romaine Papers, 1935-1995 (bulk 1960-1995) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
referencedIn Floyd B. McKissick Papers, 1940s-1980s University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Madison Measure for Measure. Records, 1965-1979. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn She's Nobody's Baby collection, 1980-1987 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Fannie Lou Hamer, 1917-1977 :papers,. 1966-1978, n.d Harvard University
referencedIn Free Southern Theater (1963-1980). Records. 1963-1978, 1985-1986. Tulane University, Amistad Research Center
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Fannie Lou Hamer papers, 1966-1978 Tulane University, Amistad Research Center
referencedIn Lerner, Gerda, 1920-2013. Papers, 1950-1995 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Irene Paull papers., 1934-1981. Minnesota Historical Society
referencedIn Sweet, Charles. Sweet family papers, 1970-1977. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Sengstacke, Robert A. Martin Luther King, Jr. : photographs, 1964-1968. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Records of the Democratic National Committee. 1960 - 1968. Organizational, Research, and Campaign Records Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
referencedIn Jordan, June, 1936-2002. Papers, 1936-2002 (inclusive), 1954-2002 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Bernice V. Robinson papers, 1957-1985 (bulk 1960-1980). Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
referencedIn [Interviews of five Mississippi women] [videorecording]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Fannie Lou Hamer Papers, 1964-1967. Wisconsin Historical Society Archives
creatorOf Romaine--Anne Romaine Interviews, 1966-1967 Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
Relation Name
associatedWith Amistad Research Center. corporateBody
correspondedWith Ashmore, Robert T. (Robert Thomas), 1904-1989 person
associatedWith Blackwell, Unita, 1933- person
honoredBy Columbia college Chicago, Ill. corporateBody
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
memberOf Democratic Party (U.S.) corporateBody
founderOf Freedom Farm Cooperative (Rulesville, Miss.) corporateBody
associatedWith Free Southern Theater (1963-1980) corporateBody
honoredBy Howard University corporateBody
associatedWith Jordan, June, 1936-2002. person
correspondedWith Ladner, Heber, 1902-1989 person
associatedWith Lerner, Gerda, 1920-2013 person
associatedWith Madison Measure for Measure. corporateBody
associatedWith McKissick, Floyd B. (Floyd Bixler), 1922- person
founderOf Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party corporateBody
associatedWith National Committee for Free Elections in Sunflower. corporateBody
founderOf National Women's Political Caucus (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Paull, Irene, 1908-1981. person
associatedWith Phyllis J. Hudson person
associatedWith Robinson, Bernice, 1914-1994. person
associatedWith Romaine, Anne. person
associatedWith Sengstacke, Robert A. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Shaw University corporateBody
associatedWith Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Mound Bayou MS US
African Americans
African American women
Civil rights
Civil rights workers
Poor People's Campaign
Civil rights activists


Birth 1917-10-06

Death 1977-03-15




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