Mar. 14, 2020

“I Am Sick And Tired Of Being Sick And Tired”

The Democratic Convention Atlantic City, New Jersey
Fannie Lou Hamer
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

On August 22, 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer spoke before the Credentials Committee at the Democratic National Convention. It was her responsibility to convince the Democratic Party to seat the elected delegates of Freedom Democratic Party of Mississippi over the segregated white delegates of the Democratic Party. This was prior to the passage of Voting Rights Act of 1965. During this remarkable speech Fannie Lou Hamer, a former sharecropper spoke about the her life as black person seeking political justice in the state of Mississippi. Fannie’s story represented similar stories of many black sharecroppers in southern states.

The very nature of Fannie Lou Hamer's presence at the Democratic National Convention was amazing in itself. Fannie Lou Hamer wasn't an educated person with scholarly degrees. Fannie was simply, a black woman who wanted full citizenship right in this nation. She wanted the right to participate along with every other black person in the state of Mississippi in the electoral process. The state of Mississippi had denied blacks the right to vote in 1890 when they created a stranglehold on the constitutional rights of blacks to be anything other than second and third-class citizens. That injustice had simply become unacceptable to Fannie Lou Hamer. So she put her life on the line to pursue her full citizenship rights as well as fight for those same rights for others.

On this August day in 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer demanded that the entire delegation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party be seated as the valid representatives for the state of Mississippi. The all-white Democratic delegation didn't reflect the state of Mississippi's population because blacks weren't allowed to vote in 1964 in the process of choosing national delegates. So powerful was Fannie Lou Hamer's presentation that day it caused such a disruption that President Lyndon Baines Johnson attempted to take away the televised audience's attention by scheduling an impromptu news conference. Fannie Lou Hamer's shadow of black independence, black awareness, black pride, black love, and black determination resides in every living black person today. We owe Fannie Lou Hamer's spirit an uncollected debt of gratitude to continue to fight for the equality in that nation that Fannie sought in her lifetime.

If that means fighting for reparations, then we must fight for that sacred debt payments as Fannie Lou Hamer would've fought for them tirelessly. If that means going to the ballot booths to vote then we must actively participate in the voting process religiously. If that means loving your brothers and sisters like Fannie Lou Hamer then we must do so unconditionally. You see although Fannie Lou Hamer left us 43 years ago, her spirit resides in every molehill, hamlet, town, and city in this nation. Fannie Lou Hamer loved this nation not for what it was but for the infinite possibilities this nation could offer if it simply walked past