As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it is critical that we remember that this march was about advocating for social and economic justice. In an era when people across the country are asking, “Where are the Black women leaders?” activists like Fannie Lou Hamer serve as a reminder of how many rural Black women have always been strong leaders. For Hamer, people could not be free unless they had freedom “from hunger, poverty, and homes that did not adequately protect needy families from the cold winds of ‘Old Man Winter.’”
An outspoken woman from Sunflower County, Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer bravely described her traumatic forced sterilization story and showed the importance of advocating for the reproductive rights of women of color.
A daughter of sharecroppers, she is also remembered as a grassroots voting rights activist and as someone who devoted her life to improving the livelihoods of rural Black women and families independent of the local, state, and federal government.