Fannie Lou Hamer: Putting An End To Being ‘Sick & Tired’

fannie lou hamerFannie Lou Hamer was more than just the woman who coined the phrase, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” She was an American voting rights activist, civil rights leader, and philanthropist. She fought for Black women, Black men, and poor people’s right’s everywhere. Hamer worked on a plantation in Mississippi for 18 years with her husband before venturing out to help bring equality to the south and all of America.

While having surgery to remove a tumor, in 1961 Hamer was given a hysterectomy without her consent by a white doctor as a part of the state of Mississippi’s plan to reduce the number of poor blacks in the state. Hamer is also credited with coining the phrase “Mississippi appendectomy” as a euphemism for the involuntary or uninformed sterilization of black women, common in the South in the 1960s. The Hamers later raised two impoverished girls, who they later decided to adopt.

Fannie Lou Hamer was nearly beaten to death in a jail cell in Winona in June 1963 for encouraging blacks to register and vote. She never recovered from that beating and died of complications from hypertension and breast cancer on March 14, 1977, aged 59, at a hospital in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. But before her death, she let it be known about the injustices in the world and did something about it.

fannie lou 3In the summer of 1964, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, or “Freedom Democrats” for short, was organized with the purpose of challenging Mississippi’s all-white and anti-civil rights delegation to the Democratic National Convention, which failed to represent all Mississippians. Hamer was elected Vice-Chair.

In Washington, D.C., President Johnson, fearful of the power of Hamer’s testimony on live television, called an emergency press conference in an effort to divert press coverage. The television networks switched to the White House from their coverage of Hamer’s address, believing that Johnson would announce his vice-presidential candidate for the forthcoming November election. But his plan didn’t work. Many television networks ran Hamer’s speech unedited on their late news programs. The Credentials Committee received thousands of calls and letters in support of the Freedom Democrats.

Johnson then dispatched several trusted Democratic Party operatives to attempt to negotiate with the Freedom Democrats, including Senator Hubert Humphrey (who was campaigning for the Vice-Presidential nomination). But when…