Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mary Ann Tupy, Sister Kathleen Murphy and St. Francis of Assisi School students, Greenwood, MS, attended the unveiling of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer’s statue at the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Park, Ruleville, MS. Sister Kathleen reflects on this experience.
Imagine spending most of your summer days off from school picking cotton beginning at the age of 8!
Imagine being a married woman and finding out for the first time that it is possible for you to vote in your own country!
Imagine going to register to vote on a school bus and being stopped by police and fined because your bus is too yellow!
Imagine being taken off another such bus, arrested, and beaten within an inch of your life with no explanation.
These were but a few of the life experiences of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer of Ruleville, MS. October 6, 2012 would have been her 95th birthday. On this day a group of students from St. Francis of Assisi School, Greenwood, MS. took their own bus trip along some of the same highways that Mrs. Hamer must have often travelled. They were on their way to attend the unveiling of the statue of Mrs. Hamer at the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Park. This is a peaceful spot off the beaten path. It has a shady simple pagoda , a small fountain, the gravesites of Mrs. Hamer and her husband, and now the striking statue of Mrs. Hamer with her familiar portable microphone in hand. She became a nationally known figure in the Civil Rights movement during the 1960’s when she called for the National Democratic Convention to recognize a black delegation from Mississippi. She was unflinching in her demands for justice and equality. Her faith supported her at all times and her favorite song, “This Little Light of Mine” often lifted the spirits of those she led when fear and discouragement threatened their work. She was most famous for telling the leadership of the National Democratic Convention, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!”
The students were privileged to witness this historic moment and many of the sponsors and speakers were touched by the interest and attention of such young attendees. May Mrs. Hamer’s sense of justice and courage remain with our students in the years to come!