Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer

I’m not sure why I didn’t know more about civil rights hero Fannie Lou Hamer before I began writing We Are All Good People Here, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the fact that those in power usually want to continue being in power, and so they pick and choose which stories to tell, selecting those that perpetuate the narrative most likely to keep them on top. Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer’s role in the civil rights movement was absolutely fundamental, yet I never learned about her in school, not in a single history class I took, even though I attended an elite high school, which boasted of offering the finest education in all of the the Southeast. Maybe so, but my education sure was incomplete.

If you, too, would like to know more about Mrs. Hamer, this PBS profile is a good place to start. Also check out John T. Edge’s op-ed about the farming collectives she started in the 1970s, understanding that to own the land was to guarantee her own autonomy. Or as Mrs. Hamer put it, “If we have that land, can’t anybody starve us out.”

Interested in learning more? These biographies are great: