A Letter to Sister Fannie Lou Hamer (My Voting Rights Hero)

by on January 24, 2022 · 1 comment

in Civil Rights, From the Soul

Photo Methodist Church Global Ministries/Kenneth Thompson

by Ernie McCray

Dear Fannie Lou.

You don’t know me.
But I know you.
You’ve been a hero of mine
for a mighty-long time.

I couldn’t help but think of you the other day, after a clown in the Senate tried to  make it sound like voting was easy in the USA, that Blacks voted as much as “Americans.”

He laid that nonsense down, knowing full well, being from Kentucky, that voting in America for Black folks and other dark folks has been hell ever since the 15th Amendment gave us the right to vote.

Oh, but our folks jumped on that opportunity for enfranchisement like the cutworms that attacked the cotton they picked as they dreamed of making those days forgotten, high stepping from those fields to the polls where they voted two folks into the United States Senate who looked like them, from Mississippi of all places, your home state, and a state that represents a huge portion of my ancestry, my mother’s family.

They were gaining power in small degrees, their eyes focused on liberty, America’s promise to its citizenry.

America, of course, couldn’t abide Black Political Action such as that, and like after the “Crack!” of old “massa’s” whip, that was the end of that.

And then a century later, you came along, Fannie Lou, not knowing that history,

but as a gifted learner you grasped what needed to be done rapidly and significantly helped us confront the indignities:

Tests of literacy that might entail reciting the Constitution from memory.
Voting and then having your name published in the paper for being “uppity.”
Beatings and being put in jail like what happened with you.
Poll tax billings.

And here we are, today, in a century you didn’t live to see, waging the same fight, taking on the latest challenges to our right to express who we want representing us politically: “poll watchers” and confusing instructions and rules that, if not followed to the t, can erase your vote because the information you wrote inside the envelope doesn’t match what you wrote on the outside of the envelope.

And I could go on and on but I just wanted to call upon your name, to let you know so many of us remember you with fondness and love.

We, like you were, are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of our situation in this country, and in honor of you, we will fight the kind of good fight you waged with dignity during your life, with our eyes forever on the prize: liberty.

The ultimate American Dream.

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Thomas Gayton January 27, 2022 at 3:35 pm



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