Fannie Lou Hamer was one of the most influential voices in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She was an organizer of the Nonviolent Student Coordinating Committee (SNCC), leading protests against racist election laws. She helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and, in 1964, was excluded from the ballot for the Mississippi House of Representatives after announcing her candidacy.
Hamer believed that the economy could be a great resource for racial equality and created several programs that provided economic opportunities for African Americans. Hamer died of breast cancer in 1977 at the age of 59. Today, a documentary, created in part by FSU alumni, explores his life and influence.
In “Fannie Lou Hamer’s America,” Hamer tells his own story “from start to finish,” according to a press release, as opposed to a documentary created from secondary sources. Over the course of the 90 minutes, Hamer’s story is told in his own words with archive footage and rarely seen video footage.
Davis Houck, professor of rhetorical studies at FSU at the College of Communication and Information, had assisted in the production of the documentary by serving as researcher and consultant, as well as constituting the project team.
“This project was difficult – difficult to research, difficult to produce, difficult to finance, difficult to edit,” Houck said in a press release. “But with a wonderful and talented team, made up of many FSU students and graduates, Fannie Lou Hamer will finally be able to tell her own story. His words are more urgent and relevant than ever.
“Fannie Lou Hamer’s America” will be part of the 10th season of America ReFramed, which previously featured the story of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for president. Since 2012, American ReFramed has created over 170 films, starring over 370 filmmakers. The show “brings fascinating stories to life illuminating the contours of our ever-changing country.”
Monica Land, Hamer’s great-niece, produced the documentary alongside Selena Lauterer. It is led by Joy Davenport, a graduate of the FSU School of Communication. Additionally, Pablo Correa, also a graduate of the FSU School of Communication and visiting assistant professor at Willamette University, is a videographer and producer of the film. Davenport and Correa were both students of Houck during their time at FSU.
The documentary will air on PBS at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, February 22.