Women’s History Month (Week One)

March 2, 2018

The Counseling Corner

By Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min. M.Th

“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
– Fannie Lou Hamer

In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, the U. S. Congress designated the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” This law requested the president to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe the month of March with appropriate activities and ceremonies. Since 1987, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields. This month, this column will highlight several women, past and present, and their contributions to the history of the United States.

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917- 1977)

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was an electrifying speaker and constant activist for civil rights. She was born October 6, 1917 in the Mississippi Delta. She was the youngest of 20 children born to sharecroppers and grew up in the heat of the Jim Crow South where she had spent much of her life picking cotton until she was fired for trying to register to vote. Hamer walked with a limp and had a blood clot behind her eye from being beaten in a Mississippi jail. But that did not stop Hamer.

Hamer was a community organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which focused on ending racial segregation and injustice in the South. Hamer also helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. During a speech before the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention, in support of the Freedom Democratic Party, she vividly recounted the brutal beating in that Mississippi jail received just because she wanted to register to vote. Fannie Lou Hamer was such an outspoken activist, that even President Johnson applied political pressure to the Credentials Committee to drop support for Hamer’s Freedom Party. In fact, during Hamer’s speech before the Credentials Committee, President Johnson called a Press Conference at the White House so that her speech before the Credentials Committee would be preempted. In spite of President Johnson’s efforts, it did not silence Hamer. That evening, Hamer’s testimony before the Credentials Committee was aired in its entirety in prime time on the evening news. Before cancer claimed her life in March 1977, Hamer was not afraid to speak up for herself and even coined the phrase:

“I’m sick and tired of being sick of tired.”

We celebrate Fannie Lou Hamer this Women’s History Month.

Next week: Continuation

The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.