Fannie Lou Hamer, Fannie Lou Townsend

Mississippi sharecropper Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), born Fannie Lou Townsend in Ruleville, Mississippi, was jailed and beaten for demanding her rights. An inspiring figure of the civil rights movement and a founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, she worked for voters rights and to desegregate the Mississippi Democratic Party. She was fearless in her approach to ensuring that black people in Mississippi were aware of their right to vote and helping them register to vote. She once responded to threats of violence from white supremacists in her community by saying, "The only thing they could do to me was to kill me, and it seemed like they'd been trying to do that a little bit at a time for as long as I could remember." She published To Praise Our Bridges: An Autobiography in 1967. One of her famous quotes, "You can pray until you faint, but if you don't get up and do something, God is not going to put it in your lap," helped define her radical approach to civil rights. Another well-known quote appears on her tombstone: "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired." She died from breast cancer in 1977 in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

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