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Explore the Constellation

Fannie Lou Hamer Testifying at the Democratic National Convention, 1964


Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer was born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, in 1917. She worked as a sharecropper from childhood into her adult years when she was also forcibly sterilized - experiences that prompted her social activism and concern for racial justice. She was engaged with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee when she and other African Americans attempted to register to vote. Hamer, who could read and write, was denied the right to vote based on a literacy test. She was arrested with her fellow registrants and endured a debilitating beating from the police. Hamer was fired from her job simply because she exercised her 15th amendment right to vote. She went on to co-found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and testified before Congress about voting rights and representation.