This Day in History: 1977-03-14

Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, called “the spirit of the civil rights movement,” dies. Born a sharecropper, she worked from the age of six as a timekeeper on a cotton plantation. Later, she became involved in the Black Freedom Struggle and eventually moved on to become a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Because African Americans were excluded from the Mississippi Democratic Party, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) was formed, with Fannie Lou Hamer as a founding member and vice president. She also lectured extensively, and was known for a signature line she often used, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” She was known as a powerful speaker, and her singing voice lent another power to civil rights meetings. Suffering from breast cancer, diabetes, and heart problems, Fannie Lou Hamer died in Mississippi. Learn more.