(May 8, 2018) – Through a generous grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the film and curriculum crew of a new documentary, Fannie Lou Hamer’s America, will host two free workshops in the Mississippi Delta this summer for teachers and students.
The first, an Educator’s Workshop for teachers in Hamer’s native Sunflower County, will be held on June 26 and 27, and will be conducted by Fannie Lou Hamer historians and scholars, Drs. Maegan Parker Brooks and Davis Houck. Brooks, an Assistant Professor in the Civic Communication and Media Department at Willamette University in Oregon, has written two books about Hamer, including one with Houck, Fannie Lou Hamer Professor of Rhetorical Studies at Florida State University. They are the developers of the Fannie Lou Hamer-inspired curriculum, entitled, Find Your Voice. The curriculum will be a central feature of a new website for students, educators, artists, and activists. Houck and Brooks are also the lead researchers and consultants on the film.
Brooks and Houck partnered with the Sunflower County Consolidated School District (SCCSD), in particular, because Hamer lived and was politically active in Ruleville, and also because of the SCCSD’s mission to become a model district that attracts and retains high quality teachers and prepares students for college, careers, and the community.
Sunflower County teachers, representing a variety of grade levels and across several schools, volunteered to assist Brooks and Houck in developing K-12 lesson plans featuring the life and activism of Fannie Lou Hamer.
"We are so thankful to be collaborating with SCCSD on the Find Your Voice curriculum project! Teachers across the district share our belief that Fannie Lou Hamer's inspirational life story and her wide-ranging activism hold the potential to inspire today's students,” Brooks said. “Unfortunately, many teachers who would like to teach more about inspiring local figures like Mrs. Hamer, lack the resources to do so in compelling ways. This is where the extensive research we conducted for the documentary comes into play! We are looking forward to sharing archival and multimedia resources with SCCSD teachers and we are also looking forward to learning from SCCSD teachers about how to best reach and inspire a new generation of students."
The Young Filmmaker’s Workshop is open to 15 high school students from Sunflower County and will provide them with unique skills such as filmmaking, primary source research, oral histories, and digital studies, to help them stand out as exemplary candidates for colleges and careers. This project also hopes to encourage more minorities in digital media production fields. The workshop will be held Monday through Thursday, June 11 through July 9. The instructors are professional filmmakers Pablo Correa and Joseph Davenport. Davenport is the director and editor of Fannie Lou Hamer’s America.
"I got into making documentaries because I wanted to tell stories. But along the way, I also found a satisfying career,” Davenport said. “I would love to provide a similar opportunity for young people getting started with their professional journeys.”
Correa, who is a videographer for the film and webspinner for the project’s website, is a doctoral student in the School of Communication at Florida State University where he teaches media production and documentary courses. He has a Master’s in Communications with an emphasis on digital media, and has experience in producing and editing documentaries, educational media, advertisements, graphics and short animations.
“I am excited to introduce students to new media technology and filmmaking as a possible career path or course of study,” Correa said. “The workshop will provide them with a hands-on opportunity to learn industry equipment and editing techniques, as well as engage students in studying the life and legacy of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.”
Correa and Davenport will be assisted by Patrick Weems of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner. Correa and Weems conducted a similar workshop for students in Tallahatchie County in 2017.
“The Emmett Till Interpretive Center is honored and excited to partner with the Fannie Lou Hamer documentary project. We need to continue to tell stories to help process past pains and imagine new ways for moving forward, Weems said.”
Born on October 6, 1917, Mississippi-sharecropper-turned-civil rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer was the voice of voting rights during the 1960s to mid-1970s. Known for her powerful speeches and impassioned pleas for equal rights, Hamer delivered an emotional plea that was nationally televised at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Following her appearance, Hamer became one of the most sought-after speakers of her time. Hamer died in 1977 at the age of 59 following a vicious jailhouse beating years earlier.
Currently in production, Fannie Lou Hamer’s America, will allow Hamer to tell her own story using audio and video footage recorded throughout her political and activist career. The film, slated for completion in the Spring of 2019 was also funded through grants from the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi and McDonald’s (Retzer Resources of Greenville).
Facebook: Fannie Lou Hamer’s America and Twitter: @flhamerica
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