Saturday, October 6, 2007

On October 6, ...

... 1942 (65 years ago today), the last internees left a temporary camp that the Canadian government had built in Vancouver's Hastings Park. Women were crammed into the dormitory at right, formerly a livestock barn; men were in a mass dormitory in an auditorium. The internment "of 23,000 Japanese Canadians during the war was the largest mass exodus in Canadian history." It did not end in full until 1949. (photo courtesy of JapaneseCanadianHistory.net)
... 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)

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