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Fannie Lou Townsend Hamer Fannie Lou Hamer was one of the most eloquent speakers for the civil rights movement in the south She worked for political social and economic equality for herself and all African Americans she fought to integrate the national Democratic party and became one of its first black delegates to a presidential conventionFannie Lou Hamer spent most of her life in rural southern poverty entering politics late in life out of anger and a passionate desire to change a racist system She is probably best known for her work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee SNCC the group that was at the forefront of the American voter registration drives of the 1960s Hamer captured national attention as a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party MFDP which eventually succeeded in electing many blacks to national office in Mississippi She was also deeply committed to grass-roots antipoverty projects in her own community Ruleville Mississippi As Henry Kirksey one of Mississippis first black senators told Hamers biographer Kay Mills If Fannie Lou Hamer had had the same opportunities that Martin Luther King had then we would have had a female Martin Luther King Hamer was born in Montgomery County Mississippi in 1918 the youngest of 20 children Her parents Jim and Lou Ella Townsend were sharecroppers who fed their whole family on 125 a day Hamer began working in the fields at age six when the plantation owner promised her goods from the commissary store At that time it was common for bosses to lure workers into debt in that way Hamer later told Scott ODell of Freedomways journal He was trapping me I never did get out of his debt again By the time Fannie Lou was 12 the Townsends had saved up enough to rent some land and buy a tractor of their own A white neighbor resenting their small success poisoned their cattle The family was then worse off
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