Mississippi: Donor Funds Fannie Lou Hamer Scholarship
An anonymous donor is giving the University of Mississippi $100,000 to pay for a scholarship named after civil rights pioneer Fannie Lou Hamer, according to a university press release.
The scholarship is designed to assist students pursuing African American Studies at the University’s College of Liberal Arts.
Hamer was born on October 6, 1917 and grew up on a cotton plantation in the delta where she started working in the fields at the age of 6.
In 1962, she joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and worked to get black people to vote. At the time, Mississippi and other states had unconstitutional literacy tests and other roadblocks to prevent African Americans from voting.
Hamer was one of the founders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which contested the seat of the regular party’s all-white delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. During the convention, Hamer testified to the resistance to which she and others have faced. The testimony was so powerful that then-President Lyndon Johnson called an impromptu press conference in an attempt to distract television attention from his testimony.
Hamer was also known for her beautiful singing voice which she often deployed when visiting black churches to speak to parishioners about the vote.
“She has worked so hard for the state of Mississippi and is a popular hero,” the donor said in the university’s press release. “I hope she continues to be an inspiration to students and that this scholarship can provide them with the financial support needed to help them achieve their goals.”
Hamer died of cancer on March 14, 1977.