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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: September 19, 2017 02:55 PM
From: Senator Art Haywood and Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione, Sen. Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr., Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, Sen. John P. Sabatina, Jr., Sen. Sharif Street, Sen. Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Honoring Civil Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer's 100th Birthday
In the near future, we will be introducing a resolution intended to honor the 100th birthday of Civil Rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer on October 6th.

Ms. Hamer was a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Born in Mississippi to a family of sharecroppers in 1917, Ms. Hamer experienced first-hand the mistreatment of minorities in America which motivated her to become a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Ms. Hamer was actively involved in nonviolent protests against segregation, and in helping African-Americans register to vote, and in advocating for policies to lift up low-income families.

On her way back from a voter registration workshop Mississippi in 1963, her bus was intercepted by police officers who arrested and subsequently beat her, denying her medical attention for days afterward. Ms. Hamer described this event to the Credentials Committee of the 1964 Democratic National Convention, which was broadcast on live television. She demanded protection of voting rights.

The incidence of an African-American woman sharecropper advising the Democratic Party was unprecedented. Despite President Johnson's efforts to thwart her message, Ms. Hamer's powerful speech for voting rights was replayed on television stations over the next few days. Her brutal honesty vividly illustrated the experience of African-Americans and women of color in this country, clearly conveying to the entire country what it was like to experience violence and discrimination under segregation in the South.

She remained politically active, running for Congress in 1965 and helping establish the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971, until she passed away in 1977. Ms. Hamer's framing of injustice as a religious and moral issue rather than simply a political one shined a unique and critical light on the discussion of violence and justice, artfully expressing the need for civil rights to a more mainstream audience.

Please join us in honoring Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer and her courage and her contributions to society on her 100th birthday.

Introduced as SR201