Facts in Brief
Birth - October 6, 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi
Death - 1977 in Montgomery County, Mississippi
Parents -Jim and Ella Townsend
I picked Fannie Lou Hamer to do a report on because she sounded like an interesting person, and she did turn out to be an interesting topic.
Fannie Lou Hamer was born on October 6, 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi. She was the youngest of the twenty children born to Jim and Ella Townsend. Her parents worked as croppers picking cotton working in the hot sunny fields of Mississippi. When she was 2 years old her family and her moved to Sunflower County, Mississippi, where she lived for the rest of her life. At age six, Fannie Lou began helping her parents in the cotton fields. By the time she was twelve, she was forced to drop out of school and work full time to help support her family. By the time she was 13 she could pick between 2 to 3 hundred pounds of cotton per day.
On August 31, 1962, Fannie Hamer decided she had had enough of sharecropping. Leaving her house in Ruleville, Mississippi, she and 17 others took a bus to the courthouse in Indianola, the county seat, to register to vote. On their return home, police stopped their bus. They were told that their bus was the wrong color. Fannie Lou and the others were arrested and jailed. After being released from jail, the plantation owner paid the Hamers a visit and told Fannie Lou that if she insisted on voting, she would have to get off his land - even though she had been there for eighteen years. She left the plantation that same day. Ten days later, night riders fired 16 bullets into the home of the family with whom she had gone to stay.
In 1963 Fannie became a registered voter and an SNCC field secretary.
In 1964, presidential elections were being held. In an effort to focus greater national attention on voting discrimination, civil rights groups created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). This new party sent a delegation, which included Fannie Lou Hamer, to Atlantic City, where the Democratic Party was holding its presidential convention. Its purpose was to challenge the all-white Mississippi delegation on the grounds that it didn't fairly represent all the people of Mississippi, since most black people hadn't been allowed to vote.
A compromise was reached that gave voting and speaking rights to two delegates from the MFDP and seated the others as honored guests. The Democrats agreed that in the future no delegation would be seated from a state where anyone was illegally denied the vote. A year later, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.
Prior to her death in 1977, Fannie Lou Hamer was inducted into Delta. In 1977 Fannie died of heart and kidney failure at the age of 70. she lived a long and exciting life.
Up until today her biggest victory stands as the womens civil rights fight. She is the reason why women can vote now.