(Oct. 1, 2017) BRONX, NY – Several organizations and schools around the nation are preparing to commemorate the 100th birthday of one of most beloved and respected icons of the civil rights movement, Fannie Lou Hamer. Known for being “sick and tired of being sick and tired”, Hamer was born the youngest of 20 children on Oct. 6, 1917 in rural Mississippi. During her career, Hamer spoke for the unrepresented, helped change voting laws, founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, championed women’s rights and fed thousands through her humanitarian efforts. After nearly being beaten to death in a Winona, Miss., jail cell in 1963, Hamer died of breast cancer and other health complications on March 14, 1977. She was 59.
Hamer’s life is being documented in a new film, Fannie Lou Hamer’s America, directed by Joseph Davenport and produced by Hamer’s niece, Monica Land and filmmaker Keith Beauchamp. An accompanying educational curriculum, Find Your Voice, is being developed and created by the film’s researchers, Drs. Davis Houck and Maegan Parker Brooks.
Brooks and Davenport will be taking part in several of the nationwide festivities honoring Hamer next month. On Oct. 6, Joe Davenport, will be attending an event at the Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx, NY.
“The students will be giving presentations on voting rights, watching films about Mrs. Hamer’s life and times, and learning more about how the civil rights movement is still shaping their lives and opportunities,” Davenport said. “I am very eager to talk to the students about what they’ve learned and how they feel about the powerful legacy of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer.”
On Oct. 10, Davenport will show a film clip from Fannie Lou Hamer’s America at the 14th Annual Fannie Lou Hamer Human and Civil Rights Symposium at Stockton University in New Jersey. The keynote speaker is noted journalist and activist Shaun King.
“I am honored and excited to be a guest at these celebrations,” said Davenport.
Scholar and author of two Hamer books, Brooks will preview a clip from the documentary at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, on Oct. 4, and deliver the lecture, Listen Up: Fannie Lou Hamer Still Speaks.
“I am honored that the Center for Gulf Studies is interested in and supportive of our documentary project,” Brooks said. “I plan to talk about what Hamer stood for during her lifetime, how she lives on as a symbol since her death, and why her life, rhetoric, and activism is relevant in our contemporary context.”
On Thursday, Oct. 5, Brooks will meet with history professor Dr. Stephanie Rolf at Milsaps College regarding the Find Your Voice curriculum, and Friday, Oct. 6, she will attend the centennial celebrations in Hamer’s hometown of Ruleville, Miss.
“This is the first time I’ve returned to Ruleville since the statue dedication and I am eager to see friends in the Mississippi Delta, establish contacts for the Find Your Voice curriculum project, and share the progress of our documentary with the Ruleville community,” Brooks said. “I feel blessed, humbled, and honored to be a part of these Hamer remembrances.”
The theme of the Ruleville event is Fannie Lou Hamer Reflections: Her Light Still Shines. Scheduled speakers at that event include Charles McLaurin, who worked with Hamer for most of her career and Vergie Hamer Faulkner, the adopted daughter of Pap and Fannie Lou Hamer.
Fannie Lou Hamer’s America, is a new and original documentary that tells the story of the poor Mississippi sharecropper who emerged as a preeminent orator of the civil rights movement, in her own words. Currently in production, the film was sponsored in part by the Mississippi Humanities Council, The Ella Baker Foundation, Freedom Singer Bill Perlman, The Women’s Foundation of Mississippi and veteran broadcast journalist Tavis Smiley.
About Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School
The fundamental aim of Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School (FLH FHS)is to teach students to use their minds well and prepare them to live productive, socially useful, and personally satisfying lives. The school’s academic program stresses intellectual development and political and social involvement in our society. The National Education Policy Center acknowledged (FLH FHS) as a Gold-Standard School of Opportunity, one of only five schools to earn this award and the only school selected for that standard from NYC.
Facebook: Fannie Lou Hamer’s America and Twitter: @flhamerica
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