Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights icon and voting rights pioneer, would have turned 100 years old today.
Born the daughter of sharecroppers, Hamer’s political activism sparked from her own life experiences and other civil rights heroes, who inspired her to get involved. After she started working for the the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as a field organizer, Hamer participated in several acts of civil disobedience, where nonviolent actions were often met with violence from whites.
However, Hamer continued to persevere and went on to lead the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer campaign, a voter registration drive to help Black Mississippians register to vote. Later that year, as a founding member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, she also challenged the state’s all white segregated delegation, and spoke out about the plight of Black people in Mississippi at the Democratic National Convention. Because of her testimony at the convention, she became an influential figure in the fight for Black liberation in the South.
To honor her birthdate, here are 10 of Fannie Lou Hamer’s most powerful quotes.
1. “Sometimes it seem like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed. But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off.”
Photo credit: Credit: Methodist Church Global Ministries/Kenneth Thompson
2. “When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.”
Photo credit: Take Stock/Matt Herron
3. “Never to forget where we came from and always praise the bridges that carried us over.”
4. “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
Photo credit: William J. Smith/AP
5. “We didn’t come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here.”
Photo credit: Corbis
6. “Righteousness exalts a nation. Hate just makes people miserable.”
7. “We have to build our own power. We have to win every single political office we can, where we have a majority of Black people…”
8. “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
9.”Hate won’t only destroy us. It will destroy these people that’s hating as well.”
10. “There is one thing you have got to learn about our movement. Three people are better than no people.”
Ms. Hamer, thank you for paving the way for Black voting rights. Your fearlessness and powerful legacy remains an inspiration to us all.