Celebrating BHM: Fannie Lou Hamer

We all know that February is Black History Month. So, in honor of the incredible struggles that we as a nation have overcome (and are still battling) for the sake of civil rights and equality, Her Campus UNF is dedicating each Friday of the month to recognizing a Black woman from history. 

Have you ever been sick and tired of being sick and tired?

If yes, then you must thank Fannie Lou Hamer for coining the phrase we all can relate to.

Hamer was a Mississippi native who had a giant impact on the movement to welcome African Americans into political voting.

For a large portion of her life, Hamer lived and worked with her husband, Perry “Pap” Hamer near Ruleville, Mississippi. It wasn’t until the 1950s when Hamer decided to attend a protest meeting, that she was exposed to and encouraged to join activists for civil rights. One of the most prominent meetings was that of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, which aimed to promote voter registration, equality in schools, and other civil rights.

In the summer of 1962 during a meeting that Hamer attended, she met civil rights activists who were encouraging others to vote. This is when Hamer decided to register herself to vote. She was one out of a very small number of African Americans to do so.

Hamer traveled and spoke many times in her life, dedicating herself to the fight for civil rights. She also worked with an organization called the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was a group that was mostly- but not entirely- African American students who fought against racial injustice and segregation.

Hamer helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964, as a response to the fact that African Americans were not allowed to join the Mississippi Democratic Party. For the Democratic national Convention, the MFDP sent 68 delegates, and Hamer spoke to the Credential’s Committee about the black person’s right to vote, violence, and discrimination. The event was televised.

Hamer and her colleagues went through many hardships for the sake of civil voting rights, but their bravery and perseverance in that age helped lead us to where we stand as a nation today. As imperfect as we may still be, we are miles ahead of where we were, and women like Fannie Lou Hamer are to thank.

If you ever find yourself being “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” (the phrase is actually set in Hamer’s tombstone), remember that you have a voice, and with that, you are able to change things. That does not mean that the change will come easy; as a matter of fact, odds are it will be a battle. But in the end, everything will be worth the difference from where you were then to where you are now. 


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