Civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer was born 100 years ago on Oct. 6, 1917. Hamer became famous for saying she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of racism. Below is her obituary from when she died in 1977.
Week of March 22-26, 1977
Ruleville, Miss.—Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, whose “tiredness” of racism spurred her to become one of the nation’s foremost freedom fighters, is dead.
Mrs. Hamer died of cancer last week in Mount Bayon Community Hospital, 30-miles north of her home in Ruleville. She was 60.
In the turbulent 1960’s, her dynamic speeches were centered around blacks “tiredness” of second class citizenship. “We’re tired of being denied our rights,” or “We’re tired of segregation,” she might say.
After thus cataloging a long list of grievances, she would cap it off with: “We’re tired of being tired.”
Mrs. Hamer was a victim of police beatings, arrests and even being shot at in the days that Mississippians resisted desegregation even more staunchly than their neighbors in the Deep South.
She helped found the black-led Freedom Democratic Party and white-led regular party for seats at the 1964 Democratic Convention in Atlantic City. Although the challenge was unsuccessful, some of the black-led party delegates were seated in 1968 and the group completely took over in 1972.
Despite failing health, Mrs. Hamer was instrumental in uniting blacks and whites for Mississippi’s Democratic Party, resulting in an integrated unit representing the state last year’s Democratic Convention in New York.
She began her involvement with the civil rights struggle at the age of 45, attending civil rights rallies at a Ruleville church in 1962.
Mrs. Hamer once said, “They talked about how it was our rights as human beings to register to vote. I never knew we could vote before. Nobody ever told us.”
She became a field worker for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Dec. 1962 and subsequently was immediately expelled from Dave Milo’s plantation, where she worked a sharecropper.
Mrs. Hamer, who had been working in the fields since she was six-years-old, told fellow SNCC workers how she had lost her job. A fellow worker quoted her as saying: “They kicked me off the plantation, they set me free. It’s the best thing that could happen. Now I can work for my people.”