Fannie Lou Hamer


Fannie Lou Hamer at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey


Fannie Lou Hamer


Fannie Lou Hamer, was someone who struggled with discrimination at the intersection of rural poverty, homelessness, blackness, womanhood, reproductive injustice and disability. She suffered from polio as a child. As a young woman, she was given a hysterectomy without her consent. In the course of her work on voter registration, she and her companions were attacked and illegally jailed by Mississippi police. Fannie Lou was beaten so badly when she was in custody that she almost completely lost her sight in one eye.

Fannie Lou Hamer appreciated the emancipatory potential of landownership. In 1967 she founded the Freedom Farm Cooperative in rural Mississippi. FFC owned and operated 680 acres of land at its outset. Membership was open to persons of all races, although the co-operative was formed as a response to white landowners weaponizing hunger and homelessness to retaliate against African Americans who sought to exercise voting rights.

Fannie Lou Hamer's quote “As long as I have a pig and a garden, no one can tell me what to do” exemplifies the connection of land and freedom. The FFC and its members operated a pig bank, grew a wide variety of crops, operated schools, constructed homes through communal effort, provided advice to would be homeowners, and even provided disaster relief.

Although the FFC only operated from 1967 to 1974 when a combination of droughts, flood, Hamer’s illness and a nationwide economic downturn caused FFC to have to sell its land to pay taxes, FFC helped and supported countless families to achieve a measure of self-sufficiency during its existence.

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