Walk with me : a biography of Fannie Lou Hamer

by Larson, Kate Clifford,

Format: Print Book 2021
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She was born the 20th child in a family that had lived in the Mississippi Delta for generations, first as enslaved people and then as sharecroppers. She left school at 12 to pick cotton, as those before her had done, in a world in which white supremacy was an unassailable citadel. She was
subjected without her consent to an operation that deprived her of children. And she was denied the most basic of all rights in America--the right to cast a ballot--in a state in which Blacks constituted nearly half the population.

And so Fannie Lou Hamer lifted up her voice. Starting in the early 1960s and until her death in 1977, she was an irresistible force, not merely joining the swelling wave of change brought by civil rights but keeping it in motion. Working with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC),
which recruited her to help with voter-registration drives, Hamer became a community organizer, women's rights activist, and co-founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She summoned and used what she had against the citadel--her anger, her courage, her faith in the Bible, and her
conviction that hearts could be won over and injustice overcome. She used her brutal beating at the hands of Mississippi police, an ordeal from which she never fully recovered, as the basis of a televised speech at the 1964 Democratic Convention, a speech that the mainstream party--including its
standard-bearer, President Lyndon Johnson--tried to contain. But Fannie Lou Hamer would not be held back. For those whose lives she touched and transformed, for those who heard and followed her voice, she was the embodiment of protest, perseverance, and, most of all, the potential for revolutionary

Kate Clifford Larson's biography of Fannie Lou Hamer is the most complete ever written, drawing on recently declassified sources on both Hamer and the civil rights movement, including unredacted FBI and Department of Justice files. It also makes full use of interviews with Civil Rights activists
conducted by the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, and Democratic National Committee archives, in addition to extensive conversations with Hamer's family and with those with whom she worked most closely. Stirring, immersive, and authoritative, Walk with Me does justice to Fannie Lou Hamer's
life, capturing in full the spirit, and the voice, that led the fight for freedom and equality in America at its critical moment.
Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Biographer Larson (Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter) delivers a moving and in-depth portrait of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer (1917--1977). The youngest of 20 children born to tenant farmers in the Mississippi Delta, Hamer left school at age 13 to work the fields full-time after an accident sidelined her mother, Ella, a "fierce and protective" woman known to carry a gun in order to protect her children from racial abuse. In 1961, while seeking treatment for pelvic pain, Hamer was sterilized without her consent, an experience that left her furious and "fueled her long simmering passion for change." Soon thereafter, she began participating in voter registration drives organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Mississippi. Larson details the backlash to the civil rights movement in Mississippi, including the withholding by county agents of federal commodities from Black families and nighttime attacks on Black homes, and in the book's most harrowing chapter, she describes Hamer's vicious beating by white police officers in 1963. Profiles of other women civil rights leaders, including Septima Clark and Ella Jo Baker, are interwoven throughout, and Larson sheds light on the conflicts within the movement, in particular the points of contention between middle-class leaders and grassroots organizers like Hamer. This comprehensive account gives a lesser-known activist her due. (Sept.)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Hamer, Fannie Lou.
Civil rights workers -- United States -- Biography.
African American women civil rights workers -- Mississippi -- Biography.
Civil rights workers -- Mississippi -- Biography.
Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Civil rights movements -- Mississippi -- History -- 20th century.
African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century.
African Americans -- Civil rights -- Mississippi -- History -- 20th century.
Publisher Oxford :2021
Language English
Description viii, 322 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 283-296) and index.
ISBN 0190096845
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