Fannie Lou Hamer: Papers of a Civil Rights Activist, Political Activist, and Woman

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| By Sara Tarpley, Director, Academic Product Sales, Gale |

February and March are significant months for Gale in that they’re tied to the celebration of history, one of our favorite disciplines. In February, we acknowledge and appreciate Black history, while March brings us the opportunity to celebrate women’s history. This year, with dialogue sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement around racial injustice, as well as the recent inauguration of the United States’ first female and first woman of color vice president, Kamala Harris, we feel it’s important to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of historical figures who have sacrificed so much for our country. 

As the Washington Post once headlined an article, “Civil Rights Crusader Fannie Lou Hamer Defied Men — and Presidents — Who Tried to Silence Her,” we think, who better to celebrate in both February and March this year than the courageous and powerful Fannie Lou Hamer. A voting rights activist and civil rights leader, her plain-spoken manner and fervent belief in the biblical righteousness of her cause gained her a reputation as an electrifying speaker and constant activist of civil rights.

Gale would like to offer our library partners an opportunity to own the Fannie Lou Hamer papers to help promote continued research and dialogue around her accomplishments and legacy. These primary sources provide a unique lens into her personal and professional life.

Through the Fannie Lou Hamer papers from Gale, researchers and students can sift through primary source artifacts that allow them to experience her life, struggles, and accomplishments. Hamer was the daughter of sharecroppers and spent 18 years of her adult life as a sharecropper and timekeeper on the Dee Marlow plantation in Sunflower County, Mississippi. She was fired in 1962 because of her attempt to register to vote. The following year, Hamer became a registered voter and the field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She was instrumental in starting the Delta Ministry and was one of the founders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Hamer led a delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1964. Additional achievements include founding the Freedom Farm Corporation in 1969, becoming a founding member of the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971, running for Mississippi State Senate in 1971 (read about her platform), and being a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972.

About the Collection:
The Fannie Lou Hamer papers contain more than 3,000 pieces of correspondence, plus financial records, programs, photographs, newspaper articles, invitations, and other printed items, that help us celebrate her esteemed life.

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