... 1917 (80 years ago today), in Montgomery Country, Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer was born. Her parents were sharecroppers; her grandparents had been slaves. As a website on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee explains:
In 1962, when Hamer was 44 years old, SNCC volunteers came to town and held a voter registration meeting. She was surprised to learn that African-Americans actually had a constitutional right to vote. When the SNCC members asked for volunteers to go to the courthouse to register to vote, Hamer was the first to raise her hand.
Despite enduring a "brutal beating," Hamer cofounded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which endorsed her 1964 run for Congress against a white supremacist man. Though she lost, the party 2 seats after posing a challenge to the all-white delegation of the state's regular party; she became "'the first African American to take her rightful seat as an official delegate at a national-party convention since the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, and the first woman ever from Mississippi.'" Though she died 30 years ago, Hamer's rallying cry is immortal:
All my life I've been sick and tired. Now I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.(Associated Press photo of Hamer at Democratic Convention courtesy of American Radio Works)