Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
Illustrated by Ekua Holmes, Written by Carole Boston Weatherford

Publisher’s Summary:
Despite fierce prejudice and abuse, even being beaten to within an inch of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977. Integral to the Freedom Summer of 1964, Ms. Hamer gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention that, despite President Johnson’s interference, aired on national TV news and spurred the nation to support the Freedom Democrats. Featuring vibrant mixed-media art full of intricate detail, Voice of Freedom celebrates Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.

Primary Source Pairing:
Fannie Lou Hamer was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. Her activism, sacrifice, and dedication to equal rights is beautifully presented in this book through poetry and art. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study an image of Fannie Lou Hamer during a protest in 1964.

Additionally, play the YouTube video of an audio recording of Fannie Lou Hamer singing “This Little Light of Mine” from her album Songs My Mother Taught Me, and invite students to analyze their auditory experience using the Primary Source Analysis Tool for Sound Recordings. Take special note of the lyrics of this version of this song. What additional verses has she added? How are these added verses significant?

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What’s happening in the image?
  • Find something small but interesting.
  • What do you notice that you can’t explain?
  • Look at the signs in the background. How much of the text can you read? What does it say?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Fannie Lou Hamer at Protest: TheImageWorks.com
Songs My Mother Taught Me album information: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Additional Resource:
For an older student audience, consider using portions of the recording.
“Audio recording of Democratic National Convention, August 22, 1964, Credentials Committee. Her testimony was so powerful that Lyndon Baines Johnson called an impromptu press conference to preempt her. Although this includes photos, this is best experienced aurally.” YouTube