Fannie Lou Hamer

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Last updated 5 years ago

Social Studies
Historical biographies

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Fannie Lou Hamer

Her civil rights activism began in August 1962, when she answered a call by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) for volunteers to challenge voter registration procedures that excluded African-Americans. Fired from her job for her activism, she became a field secretary for SNCC and a registered voter in 1963.

In 1972, the MFDP unseated the white Mississippi delegation at the Democratic Convention. This led to the integration of the entire Democratic Party. Although she was ill with breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease, Hamer also worked for state prison reform. Her efforts resulted in a 1972 judicial decision that ordered sweeping changes in the state system.

She succeeded in registering in 1963. Later that year, she was arrested for entering a "whites-only" restaurant. While Hamer was in jail, guards forced two prisoners to beat her.


Hamer began working for voting rights for blacks after she tried to register to vote in 1962 but was turned away.

Lasting Impact

Hamer will be remembered as a civil rights activist that didn't let anything stand in her way. Even when she was taken to jail for entering a "Whites Only Resturant" and having a guard force two other prisoners to beat her, she stood strong and spoke out for what she belived in.

Late Life

Birth & Death

Fannie Lou Townsend was born on October 6, 1917. She was the youngest of twenty children, and her parents were Jim and Lou Ella Townsend, who lived in Mississippi. Later in her life, She became ill with breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease, and died in 1977.

In 1970, she was elected to the steering committee of the National Women's political caucus. A year later, she supported the nomination of Sissy Farenthold for vice president.

Fannie Lou Hamer


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