Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer: Great Courage

On August 6, 1964, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was formed as an alternative to the segregated Mississippi Democratic Party. Organized in conjunction with the Freedom Summer voter registration drives of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and COFO (the Council of Federated Organizations), the MFDP following democratic party rules, elected 68 delegates, including 4 white delegates and went by bus to the 1964 Democratic Party Convention held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They contended that a Mississippi delegation, elected in a segregated process, violating party and federal law could not be lawfully seated and sought to be seated as the true delegation from their state.

This placed President Lyndon Johnson, seeking election to the Oval Office in his own right (having succeeded President John F. Kennedy after his assassination in the previous year), in an awful position: allow the MFDP to be seated along with the Mississippi Democratic Party and alienate the white south, or reject the MFDP and lose the black vote.

The MFDP's claims were referred to Credentials Committee of the Democratic Party.

What follows is the gripping testimony of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. Hers is a story which tells of how valiantly people struggled less than half a century ago to gain the right to vote and respect as citizens by their fellow citizens.

I dare you to listen and come away thinking that voting is not important.


Alan Bean said...

Thanks for reminding your readers about Fannie Lou Hamer and her speech at the Atlantic City Convention. Hamer was beaten half to death in Winona, Mississipi, the same town where Curtis Flowers will soon be tried for the sixth time for the same murder charges. I have been blogging on the Flowers case at: and have been using the history of the town, especially the Hamer story, as historical context. I will soon be covering the same ground you cover in this post.

Gerald Britt said...


I've been reading your posts which prompted me to revisit the life of this remarkable woman. I thank you for lifting her up in a way that reminds us of what it cost another generation for some of the things we take for granted.