The Civil Rights movement has so many unsung heroes, so many individual stories that have become lost, over time, in the collective story we know well. I love coming upon new books that shed light on the heroes, that tell their stories and acknowledge their sacrifices.
This weekend, I discovered this:
the remarkable story of Fannie Lou Hamer. Born a sharecropper in the Mississippi Delta, she suffered through back-breaking deprivations, sorrow and all the indignities of racism. There came a point when she felt:
All my life I’ve been sick and tired.
Now I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.
She became politically active, and paid dearly for it. But each setback only served to make her all the more resolute in pursuit justice, and the vote. Eventually, Hamer joined sit ins and marched with Dr. King, she ran for office, spoke at the Democratic National Convention and co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus. She was, and remains, and inspiration.
Carole Boston Weatherford tells Hamer’s story beautifully, weaving in the spirituals which Fannie Lou sang to inspire and comfort herself and those in the civil rights movement all through the years of struggle. Ekua Holmes’ gorgeous illustrations made this book such a visual delight as well:
Here’s a short video about Fannie Lou Hamer, focusing on her fearless testimony to Congress: