Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer, known as the lady who was "sick and tired of being sick and tired," was born October 6, 1917, in Mississippi. She was the granddaughter of slaves and her family were sharecroppers - a position not that different from slavery.
In 1962, SNCC volunteers came to town and held a voter registration meeting. When the SNCC members asked for volunteers to go to the courthouse to register to vote, Hamer was the first to raise her hand. This was a courageous and dangerous decision as many blacks attempting to vote suffered harassment, beatings, and lynchings.
In June of 1963, Hamer and other activists were on their way back from South Carolina from a literacy workshop. The group was stopped in Mississippi and jailed on false charges. Hamer and her colleagues were brutally beaten by the police. Hamer's recovery took nearly a month, yet she would not be discouraged. She became a SNCC Field Secretary and traveled around the country speaking and registering people to vote.
Hamer co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP or Freedom Democrats). In 1964, the MDFP challenged the all-white Mississippi delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Hamer spoke in front of the Credentials Committee in a televised proceeding that reached millions of viewers. As a result of her speech, two delegates of the MFDP were given speaking rights at the convention and the other members were seated as honorable guests.
Fannie Lou Hamer was an inspirational figure to many involved in the struggle for civil rights. She died of breast cancer on March 14, 1977 at the age of 59.