Wednesday, July 15, 2015

'This Little Light of Mine'

Fannie Lou Hamer

Below is the trailer for the inspiring documentary short This Little Light of Mine: The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer (2015), directed by Robin Hamilton. It is being screened today at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C., as part of the March on Washington Film Festival, which continues through July 25. Post-screening, a panel discussion is scheduled that will involve Hamer's daughter Vergie Hamer Faulkner, Robin Hamilton, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia; Rev. Ed King, who founded the Mississippi Democratic PartyDorie Ladner, an organizer of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and civil rights activist Dr. Leslie McLemore, who created the Hamer Institute @COFO at Jackson State University. 

The film tells the story of Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977), granddaughter of a slave and the youngest of 20 children born to impoverished sharecroppers. During the Civil Rights Movement in America, Hamer brought her leadership to bear on efforts to win African-Americans the right to vote in Mississippi. She challenged the all-White delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, refused to concede to the compromise proposed, and gave impassioned testimony about her despicable treatment as an activist (she lost her job, suffered a horrific beating in a county jail, and endured death threats and attacks on her family members). She went on to speak out about poverty, founded a land cooperative (Freedom Farms Corporation) for poor farmers, and continued speaking out against discrimination and oppression. 

By anyone's standards, Fannie Lou Hamer was a remarkable woman.

In addition to footage of members of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which Hamer helped create and organize, the documentary features speeches by the activist and interviews with SNCC members.

In making the film, Robin Hamilton restores the voice of Fannie Lou Hamer, endowing her with the importance she deserves in the historic movement to give all African Americans their human rights.

Robin Hamilton, making her directorial debut with the film, is the owner of ARoundRobin Production Company.

The documentary also is an official selection of the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival and will be shown on August 12.

Follow the Fannie Lou Hamer - A Film site for news and screenings, as well as blog postings.

Hamer Institute on FaceBook

Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden, Ruleville, Mississippi

Articles of Interest:

Anne Rooney, "50 Years Ago Today, Fannie Lou Hamer Spoke Out for Freedom", Ms. Blog, August 22, 2014 (A clip of Hamer's testimony before the Credentials Committee is available here. It is taken from the PBS documentary Freedom Summer.)

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