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Fannie Lou Hamer Facts


Fannie Lou Hamer and Parents of Michael Schwerner

Fannie Lou Hamer at the Democratic National Convention of 1964, with the parents of slain civil rights worker, Michael Schwerner of Mississippi.

Getty Images / Archive Photos / Contributed by Robert Abbott Sengstacke

Known for: civil rights activism; called "the spirit of the civil rights movement"

Occupation: sharecropper; field work from age 6; timekeeper on cotton plantation; field secretary for SNCC; activist
Dates: October 6, 1917 - March 14, 1977
Also known as: Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer

More About Fannie Lou Hamer:

Background, Family:

  • Father: Jim Townsend
  • Mother: Ella Townsend
  • youngest of 20 children
  • born in Montgomery County, Mississippi; family moved when she was two to Sunflower County, Mississippi


attended segregated school system in Mississippi, with a short school year to accommodate field work as a child of a sharecropping family; dropped out by 6th grade

Marriage, Children:

  • husband: Perry "Pap" Hamer (married 1942; tractor driver)
  • children (adopted): Dorothy Jean, Vergie Ree

Religion: Baptist

Organizations: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC), others

More: Fannie Lou Hamer Biography

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