From the Collections of the Amistad Research Center
Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) was the daughter of sharecroppers and spent eighteen years of her adult life as a sharecropper and timekeeper on the Dee Marlow plantation in Sunflower County, Mississippi. She was fired in 1962 because of her attempt to register to vote. The following year she became a registered voter and also became the field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
She was instrumental in starting the Delta Ministry, and she was one of the founders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She led a delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1964.
She became chairman of the board of the Fannie Lou Hamer Day Care Center founded in Ruleville, Mississippi, in 1970, by the National Council of Negro Women. She also served as a member of the board of the Sunflower County Day Care Center and Family Service Center, on the policy council of the National Women's Political Party of Mississippi, and on the board of trustees of the Martin Luther King Center for Social Change.
Although her formal education went only to the fifth grade, she received many academic and other honors. Tougaloo College, Shaw University, Columbia College, and Howard University gave her honorary degrees. She also received the National Sojourner Truth Meritorious Service Award, the Mary Church Terrell Award from Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., and the Paul Robeson Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
The Fannie Lou Hamer papers contain more than three thousand pieces of correspondence plus financial records, programs, photographs, newspaper articles, invitations, and other printed items. The papers are arranged in the following series: Personal, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Freedom Farms Corporation, Delta Ministry, Mississippians United to Elect Negro Candidates, Delta Opportunities Corporation, and Collected Materials.