Editor’s Note: This piece recognizes the contributions of Fannie Lou Hamer. The Fannie Lou Hamer Institute of Advocacy & Social Action hosts a semester-long program for black girls ages 10 to 18. More information can be found at this link.
Whether you have a Ph.D., or no D, we’re in this bag together. And whether you’re from Morehouse or Nohouse, we’re still in this bag together. Not to fight to try to liberate ourselves from the men – this is another trick to get us fighting among ourselves – but to work together with the black man, then we will have a better chance to just act as human beings, and to be treated as human beings in our sick society.
We are our sister’s keepers.
If not us…who? If not now…when?
I have an affinity for our young girls; for their well being, for their success, for their accomplishments.
I was fortunate to have a mother, grandmothers, a Godmother, aunts, school teachers and neighborhood mothers; my village, to help me become the woman that I am today. They encouraged me, corrected me, supported me, motivated me and pushed me to be my very best. I am fortunate to have that village to help me become, but many of our young ladies don’t have a support system and safety net.
What happens when our young female leaders of tomorrow don’t have that village? Who do they turn to? When do we step up to the task and be the village? There is a scripture that says “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” I live by that scripture and believe that each one must reach one in order for us to progress to a place that strengthens all of us. We are indeed our sister’s keepers!
I authored a book entitled Fierce and Fabulous, A Young lady’s guide to Inspiration and Positive Self-Image. The book was inspired by my village. Those role models that helped me become the woman that I am today. We all need a village but some young ladies don’t have that.
We salute the “she-roes” like Fannie Lou Hamer who were the village for some many women. She paved the way for voting rights and equality and building a bridge for women to cross. In a quote from her, she said “Never forget where we came from and always praise the bridges that carried us over.”
In the summer of 1962, Hamer made a life-changing decision to attend a protest meeting. She met civil rights activist there who were there to encourage African Americans to register to vote. Such bravery came with a high price, she encountered opposition from local and state law enforcement. She was also fired from her job and driven from the plantation she called home for nearly two decades-just for registering to vote. But these actions only solidified Hamer’s resolve to help other African Americans to get to vote.
According to The New York Times, she said “They kicked me off the plantation, they set me free. It’s the best thing that could happen. Now I can work for my people.”
She dedicated her life to fight for civil rights. She was resilient, proud and dedicated. I wonder what Fannie Lou Hamer would say today if she were still alive and could see the apathy of our 21st century voters? She would not be pleased after her fight and life- long dedication to a cause so near and dear to her. She worked for this cause until her passing due to high blood pressure and breast cancer complications.
We are fortunate that her legacy lives on through programs such as The Fannie Lou Hamer Institute of Advocacy and Social Action Inc. This program is designed to prepare our brown girls for a life of civic engagement, community activism and courageous leadership.
Someone saw fit to create a program to be that bridge that Mrs. Hamer mentioned, to carry another over. And for this, she I’m sure would be pleased!