Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer will be honored with a historical marker in Winona, Mississippi for her heroic efforts on June 9.
The unveiling ceremony will take place on the corner of Oak Drive and Sterling Avenue, just steps away from the Montgomery County jail, where Hamer and five other activists in the community were beaten and terrorized by police after they were arrested for sitting in the white-only section of a cafe out of protest on June 9, 1963. The group of freedom fighters had just returned from a voter education workshop in South Carolina hours before their unruly encounter with law enforcement.
Following Thursday’s unveiling of the marker, Ms. Hamer and her colleague’s courageous work will be memorialized with a four-day event filled with food, music, voter registration activities, and oral history interviews, according to the Fannie Lou Hamer America website. The exciting ceremony will take place at the Winona Community House located at 113 Sterling Avenue until 8:00 PM.
Additionally, the weekend-long celebration will also include a historical bus tour and a Winona Community Healing Service on Sunday, June 12 at Winona Baptist Church, the Winona Times reported.
Ms. Hamer dedicated her life to educating her community on voting registration rights. She also worked tiredly to dismantle segregation across the south in the 60s with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Founded in 1960, the student-led committee organized a number of sit-in protests during the civil rights movement demanding for equality.
Life changed drastically for Hamer after she was brutalized in the Montgomery Jail in 1963. While she sustained permanent injury from the ruthless beating, the activist used the challenging experience as fuel to accelerate her civil rights work. In addition to her work with the SNCC, the social justice titan co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged pro-segregation politicians across the south. She also ran for congress, according to PBS.
“Sometimes it seems like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed. But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off,” Hamer once said during a powerful speech.
The five law enforcement officers responsible for carrying out Hamer’s vicious attack were tried but were later acquitted by an all-white jury in December 1963.