The daughter of poor sharecroppers, Fannie Lou Hamer joined the civil rights movement at age forty-five, when she agreed to work in a voter registration drive for Mississippi blacks. Joining in the fight to end the South's systematic disenfranchisement of African Americans cost Hamer her job. She was not to be deterred, however. By the summer of 1964, having made significant inroads on registration, she was at the Democratic National Convention, challenging the legitimacy of Mississippi's all-white delegation. Winning only two seats for her cause, she considered the effort a failure. Yet Hamer and her following had clearly jolted the national conscience, and the days of whites-only politics in the South were numbered.
Hamer is here seen participating in the March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, in June 1966 to dramatize the determination of African Americans to win recognition for their full rights as citizens.