She was born the 20th child in a family that had lived in the Mississippi Delta for generations, first as enslaved people and then as sharecroppers. She left school at 12 to pick cotton, as those before her had done, in a world in which white supremacy was an unassailable citadel. She was subjected without her consent to an operation that deprived her of children. And she was denied the most basic of all rights in America-the right to cast a ballot-in a
state in which Blacks constituted nearly half the population.
And so Fannie Lou Hamer lifted up her voice. Starting in the early 1960s and until her death in 1977, she was an irresistible force, not merely joining the swelling wave of change brought by civil rights but keeping it in motion. Working with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which recruited her to help with voter-registration drives, Hamer became a community organizer, women's rights activist, and co-founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She summoned and
used what she had against the citadel-her anger, her courage, her faith in the Bible, and her conviction that hearts could be won over and injustice overcome. She used her brutal beating at the hands of Mississippi police, an ordeal from which she never fully recovered, as the basis of a televised
speech at the 1964 Democratic Convention, a speech that the mainstream party-including its standard-bearer, President Lyndon Johnson-tried to contain. But Fannie Lou Hamer would not be held back. For those whose lives she touched and transformed, for those who heard and followed her voice, she was the embodiment of protest, perseverance, and, most of all, the potential for revolutionary change.
Kate Clifford Larson's biography of Fannie Lou Hamer is the most complete ever written, drawing on recently declassified sources on both Hamer and the civil rights movement, including unredacted FBI and Department of Justice files. It also makes full use of interviews with Civil Rights activists conducted by the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, and Democratic National Committee archives, in addition to extensive conversations with Hamer's family and with those with whom she worked most
closely. Stirring, immersive, and authoritative, Walk with Me does justice to Fannie Lou Hamer's life, capturing in full the spirit, and the voice, that led the fight for freedom and equality in America at its critical moment.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 674 g
Dimensions: 242 x 164 x 24 mm
An urgent story for our times, Walk With Me hurls readers headlong into the violent and repressive context of rural Mississippi before voting was a protected right for all Americans, even as it paints a moving picture of indelible courage and breathtaking transformation. Historian Kate Larson does not withhold the excruciating details of Civil Rights era activism and backlash in this book; rather, she carefully pairs these violent accounts with the uplifting
moments of song, food, faith, and resilience that characterized Fannie Lou Hamer's family and community life. Larson demonstrates once again that she is an adept biographer with an eye for the contexts and character traits that shaped ordinary people into extraordinary agents of change. * Tiya Miles, author of All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake *
Kate Larson has captured the fullness and simple grandeur of the life of Fannie Lou Hamer. For the first time, Larson has shared with us the context of Hamer's struggles and triumphs as a daughter of the Mississippi Delta. This work is an intimate portrait of a life that represents the best that America has to offer. * Dr. Leslie-Burl McLemore, Professor Emeritus, Jackson State University, Founding Director, Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy *
Kate Clifford Larson's page-turning biography of Fannie Lou Hamer takes readers on the journey of a woman born into the grinding poverty and racism of the Mississippi Delta who rose to become the voice of the unheard and the conscience of a nation. Based on prodigious research and extensive interviews with those who knew Hamer, Walk with Me is a masterpiece of historical scholarship, a layered portrait of an unlikely hero of the civil rights movement who
gave her life for freedom. * Dr. Joyce Ladner, Mississippi Civil Rights veteran and former interim president of Howard University *
For every situation, for every generation, for all trying times, God sends forth a leader cloaked in spirit, motivated by faith, and often with the voice of an Angel. This book envelops the reader in Fannie Lou Hamer and the events that shaped her life during the revolutionary times of the 1960's Civil Rights movement. It will be of great interest to anyone fighting racial, sex and cultural bias. * Frank Smith, Jr., Mississippi Civil Rights veteran, Executive Director of the African American Civil War Memorial and Freedom Foundation and Museum, Washington, D.C. *