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Walk with Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer

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She was born the 20th child in a family that had lived in the Mississippi Delta for generations, first as enslaved people and then as sharecroppers. She left school at 12 to pick cotton, as those before her had done, in a world in which white supremacy was an unassailable citadel. She was subjected without her consent to an operation that deprived her of children. And she w She was born the 20th child in a family that had lived in the Mississippi Delta for generations, first as enslaved people and then as sharecroppers. She left school at 12 to pick cotton, as those before her had done, in a world in which white supremacy was an unassailable citadel. She was subjected without her consent to an operation that deprived her of children. And she was denied the most basic of all rights in America--the right to cast a ballot--in a state in which Blacks constituted nearly half the population. And so Fannie Lou Hamer lifted up her voice. Starting in the early 1960s and until her death in 1977, she was an irresistible force, not merely joining the swelling wave of change brought by civil rights but keeping it in motion. Working with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which recruited her to help with voter-registration drives, Hamer became a community organizer, women's rights activist, and co-founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She summoned and used what she had against the citadel--her anger, her courage, her faith in the Bible, and her conviction that hearts could be won over and injustice overcome. She used her brutal beating at the hands of Mississippi police, an ordeal from which she never fully recovered, as the basis of a televised speech at the 1964 Democratic Convention, a speech that the mainstream party--including its standard-bearer, President Lyndon Johnson--tried to contain. But Fannie Lou Hamer would not be held back. For those whose lives she touched and transformed, for those who heard and followed her voice, she was the embodiment of protest, perseverance, and, most of all, the potential for revolutionary change. Kate Clifford Larson's biography of Fannie Lou Hamer is the most complete ever written, drawing on recently declassified sources on both Hamer and the civil rights movement, including unredacted FBI and Department of Justice files. It also makes full use of interviews with Civil Rights activists conducted by the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, and Democratic National Committee archives, in addition to extensive conversations with Hamer's family and with those with whom she worked most closely. Stirring, immersive, and authoritative, Walk with Me does justice to Fannie Lou Hamer's life, capturing in full the spirit, and the voice, that led the fight for freedom and equality in America at its critical moment.


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She was born the 20th child in a family that had lived in the Mississippi Delta for generations, first as enslaved people and then as sharecroppers. She left school at 12 to pick cotton, as those before her had done, in a world in which white supremacy was an unassailable citadel. She was subjected without her consent to an operation that deprived her of children. And she w She was born the 20th child in a family that had lived in the Mississippi Delta for generations, first as enslaved people and then as sharecroppers. She left school at 12 to pick cotton, as those before her had done, in a world in which white supremacy was an unassailable citadel. She was subjected without her consent to an operation that deprived her of children. And she was denied the most basic of all rights in America--the right to cast a ballot--in a state in which Blacks constituted nearly half the population. And so Fannie Lou Hamer lifted up her voice. Starting in the early 1960s and until her death in 1977, she was an irresistible force, not merely joining the swelling wave of change brought by civil rights but keeping it in motion. Working with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which recruited her to help with voter-registration drives, Hamer became a community organizer, women's rights activist, and co-founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She summoned and used what she had against the citadel--her anger, her courage, her faith in the Bible, and her conviction that hearts could be won over and injustice overcome. She used her brutal beating at the hands of Mississippi police, an ordeal from which she never fully recovered, as the basis of a televised speech at the 1964 Democratic Convention, a speech that the mainstream party--including its standard-bearer, President Lyndon Johnson--tried to contain. But Fannie Lou Hamer would not be held back. For those whose lives she touched and transformed, for those who heard and followed her voice, she was the embodiment of protest, perseverance, and, most of all, the potential for revolutionary change. Kate Clifford Larson's biography of Fannie Lou Hamer is the most complete ever written, drawing on recently declassified sources on both Hamer and the civil rights movement, including unredacted FBI and Department of Justice files. It also makes full use of interviews with Civil Rights activists conducted by the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, and Democratic National Committee archives, in addition to extensive conversations with Hamer's family and with those with whom she worked most closely. Stirring, immersive, and authoritative, Walk with Me does justice to Fannie Lou Hamer's life, capturing in full the spirit, and the voice, that led the fight for freedom and equality in America at its critical moment.

42 review for Walk with Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate Stewart

    Hamer is still very much an inspiration to all of us in the trenches fighting for voting rights across the country today. This biography has new interviews and sources-- even if you know a lot about Hamer and the movement, you will want to read it. What she faced fills me with grief and yet makes me know that we cannot give up the fight. I will be carrying this book with me in the back of my mind in my own work. Thank you, Ms. Larson.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bob Peterson

    Walk with Me is a detailed look at the trials and tribulations -- and massive successes of a key figure in the 1960's Civil Rights movement. The detailed descriptions of the terror brought down on Fannie and many other Civil Rights activists in Mississippi during the 1960s, are difficult to read. But they are essential to learn and to connect to the current attempts by dozens of state legislatures to suppress voting rights. I had the good fortune to meet Fannie Lou Hamer several times, as she tr Walk with Me is a detailed look at the trials and tribulations -- and massive successes of a key figure in the 1960's Civil Rights movement. The detailed descriptions of the terror brought down on Fannie and many other Civil Rights activists in Mississippi during the 1960s, are difficult to read. But they are essential to learn and to connect to the current attempts by dozens of state legislatures to suppress voting rights. I had the good fortune to meet Fannie Lou Hamer several times, as she traveled to Madison Wisconsin for medical care after her brutal beating in Winona MS in 1963. I remembered her as a very charismatic leader who taught through stories and repeatedly said "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired." I was a leader of the Madison Young World Development group that was associated with the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation. We did 26 mile walks, getting pledges per mile and gave funds to domestic and international projects to fight the root causes of hunger. In Madison alone we raised tens of thousands of dollars in our annual walks, and a large portion of that went to support the Freedom Farm Coop that Fannie and her family and colleagues created. As a junior in high school I traveled south from Madison hauling clothing and books to Fannie and the coop. The book brought back stark memories -- I'll leave it that. I highly recommend the book. It's more relevant now than ever.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Linnea Boese

    "Walk with Me" is a well-researched history book as well as the biography of a wonderful, courageous Christian woman (the title comes from a hymn she loved to sing). She came from a poor family and had little education, but she made waves in the civil rights movement, first in Mississippi then in the nation. Her motivation to never quit has become well-known: "I'm sick 'n' tired of being sick 'n' tired." She had a right to be, and she leaned on God to guide the way forward as she worked for just "Walk with Me" is a well-researched history book as well as the biography of a wonderful, courageous Christian woman (the title comes from a hymn she loved to sing). She came from a poor family and had little education, but she made waves in the civil rights movement, first in Mississippi then in the nation. Her motivation to never quit has become well-known: "I'm sick 'n' tired of being sick 'n' tired." She had a right to be, and she leaned on God to guide the way forward as she worked for justice for Black Americans. I appreciate her love for whites who joined her long walk.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Miller

    This book is packed with facts and references and yet is supremely readable. It was almost a page turner for me. While it is extremely difficult to read about the treatment Fannie Lou Hamer received, it gives a huge boost to the spirit and encouragement for continuing the fight. Jennifer Miller

  5. 5 out of 5

    sylvia oyinlola

    Great Lesson on Grassroots Organization I have known about Fannie Lou Hammer. The image of her testimony to Congress ,where she described the injustices, brutalities and indignation against her and her fellow Mississippians, is still ingrained in my memory. This book gave live and meaning to her life my respect and awe for Mrs Hammer only grew. Great read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rob

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