1964 December 20

Fannie Lou Hamer: “I’m Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired”

 

Fannie Lou Hamer was a Mississippi sharecropper who became a prominent civil rights activist in the mid-1960s. On this day, she spoke in Harlem, New York City, in support of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which called for its representatives to be seated in the new Congress because of systematic voting discrimination against African-Americans in Mississippi. On August 22, 1964, she delivered a famous speech to the 1964 Democratic Party Convention, demanding that the integrated Freedom Democratic Party delegation be seated rather than the segregationist, all-white “official” delegation. Covered on national television, the speech made Hamer a national hero. The MFDP challenge failed, however, as its delegates rejected unacceptable compromises to be seated at the Democratic Party Convention in Atlantic City. Four years later, after another intense but low-key battle, Hamer took her seat as a delegate at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention.

Fannie Lou Hamer and other African-American sharecroppers, who were returning from a voting rights workshop, had been arrested and then beaten in jail in Winona, Mississippi, on June 9, 1963.

Fannie Lou Hamer died in 1977. A statue in her honor was erected in Ruleville, Mississippi, on October 5, 2012.

Hamer: “My name is Fannie Lou Hamer and I exist at 626 East Lafayette Street in Ruleville, Mississippi. The reason I say ‘exist’ [is] because we’re excluded from everything in Mississippi but the tombs and the graves. That’s why it is called that instead of the ‘land of the free and the  home of the brave.’ It’s called in Mississippi ‘the land of the tree and the home of the grave.’ It was the 31st of August of 1962, that eighteen of us traveled 26 miles to the county courthouse in Indianola, Mississippi, to try to register to become first-class citizens. It was the 31st of August in 1962, that I was fired for trying to become a first-class citizen.”

Read Hamer’s Speech: http://www.crmvet.org/docs/flh64.htm

Read Hamer’s biography: Kay Mills, This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer (1993)

Hear the music of the civil rights movement (18 songs): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFc8glsWjgU&list=PLYwfZ_bASjn25XLL6KrVH6F4d8TqlTBog

Learn more: Gordon Martin, Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote (2010)

Find a Day

Go
Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!