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Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Poem for Fannie Lou Hamer

"With the people, for the people, by the people. I crack up when I hear it; I say, with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, cause that's what really happens."
--Fannie Lou Hamer

Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, The Majorette

by

E.P. McKnight

A hero becomes some, some become a hero
Making a difference, aside putting their ego
Life’s struggles, issues so many were forced
To pursue, eradicate, many others coerced
There was no back seat in Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer,
Confronting all, a manner, no one would blame her
With determination, her destiny to fulfill
Being unstoppable, even when feeling ill
Twelve sisters and brothers, her family had
With little education, she was a curious lad
Noting the difference between Black and White
Her spirit knew, this couldn’t be right
Going to church was barren, just routine
Sunday after Sunday, no changes to be seen
William Chapel was beginning to attest
Martin Luther King, our determination rest
Perry Hamer, her husband, backbone and tower
Never wavering, stood still, every devoted hour
All good privileges, appeared out of sight
But she was determined to make things right
Being sick and tired of being sick and tired
Changing the System, proved no easy ride
The Winona jail beatings, humanly horrific, bad
Standing for equal rights, made the police mad
Mrs. Hamer took abuse, suffered beatings long enough
But life before Civil Rights struggles was also rough
She was beaten for no apparent reason
As if she had committed a crime, treason
She suffered a lot, but proudly stood still
Not letting no one break her stride, her will
Marchings, lynchings, bus rides did not deter
With faith, fight, support, Ruleville got better
Joining SCLC, to bring about a better change
The more she did, the more she got a name
Voting rights, equal rights, she fought to pass
Determined these denials would not last
Beatings and jailings, her course she remain
Determined to tell the world, Mississippi ’s game
People being denied rights to vote and just live
Always the Negro denied and had to give
With determination, she went from the cotton fields
To the Halls of Congress to eradicate the ills
Born into family of sharecroppers, seeking a better way
Hard work, no rights, forced her to stand one great day
She stood this day, determined she had something to say
June Johnson, Ivesta Simpson, Lawrence Guyot, Annelle Ponder
And Ms. Hamer suffered atrocities, unveiled publicly like thunder
The National Democratic Convention, she truthfully spoke
The World was alarmed, on the details nearly choked
People in the southern town, a better life so held back
By chicken eating preachers, no teaching teachers who lacked
She ran for office of State Senate
Didn’t win, Charles McLaurin go in it
Freedom Farm was dear to her heart
Feeding the hungry from the upstart
MFDP fought a strong, courageous fight
Identifying wrongs, to make them right
Many fought and died, names untold
Just like our forefathers, transported and sold
Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Michael Swerner, Andrew Goodman
Gave their lives, fought tirelessly, in spite of the Ku Klux Klan’s men
NJ, Washington , Chicago , MFDP convention she attended
Just to be seated required much effort, much amendment
Credentials committee, the President, Hoover , had to see
We was determined not to let things remain and be
Some enslaved, while others are free
Not the way, God intended to be
FBI and Justice Department, did a lot to stop
But she was determined to reach the top
Being seated at the convention, sent many for a swirl
We’re here, “ America is home, like the rest of the world.”

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

E.P.McKnight was touring the states with her one woman show, “I Question America- Legacy of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer” Don't know current schedule but worth checking out. These historical profiles of yours are wonderful. Keep them coming!

Somebodies Friend said...

I totally understand Where Mrs. Fannie Lou Hammer would get her fight from. I have been beaten down my whole life, and can totally relate to the fight.

It just seems like the more things change in this country, the more things stay the same.

Lets all stand up for change, until we all stand up for our rights, there will not be dramatic changes that need to take place.

Anonymous said...

Check out the comments after the Waiting to exhale post, someone is still ranting about the John Edwards affair bit. It is old news but they seem pretty fired up about it.

Vigilante said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vigilante said...

This column takes me back to 1965. After a white Unitarian minister (as I recall) was shot in Selma. I flew south to participate as a callow white youth pacifist to join Dr. King's March on Montgomery. Looking back, I remember an acute sense of danger and fear, but there was also a degree of safety derived from sheer numbers, the national spotlight from the media, and federal troops. Later, I left Southern California, Ironically on the day of the Watts riots in L.A., for Indianola, Miss. We were there to research, as I recall, poor people thrown off welfare for the crime of voter registration. In the family home where I was sleeping, I was asked to sleep with a loaded shot gun, which I accepted without hesitation. There, there was no Dr. Martin Luther King, There was no national spotlight. There I lost my pacifism and gained the sense of struggle, short course. Those in the MFDP took the long course, and it is right that they should be remembered and celebrated this year.

Anonymous said...

There is another comment on Edwards, this person is bitter. I wouldn't want to be the one to have an affair on them. You'll get called out!

MacDaddy said...

somebodyiesfriend: When you speak of having been beaten but urge us to continue to stand, you speak for many Americans.
vigilante: What a great story! You were there. You knew what it meant to be vulnerable, to be in fear, when there were no cameras around in the South at that time. That's why I have a lot of respect for the students, priests, nuns and others who went South and participated in the voter registrations, the sit-ins, the bus rides and marches. civil rights movement. And, like you, they came understand how vulnerable they and blacks were when a horde of people, Dr. King, and cameras were no longer around-- that they were there to be intimidated, shot at or killed by whites. They understood the ultimate meaning of white supremacy: the feeling of entitlement, the feeling and the real ability to do whatever they willed against black people and anyone who supported them.

The blacks who lived there knew this feeling. They lived with it all of their lives. It was a kind of benign terrorism.

That's why your story is so important. It's a gateway of understand the apartheid under which blacks persevered for so many years and, ultimately, what it took to keep it functioning-- fear. Thanks for sharing this story and thanks for the wonderful posts you wrote about the mainstream, corporate media. It was great.

Vigilante said...

Thank you for being here, MacDaddy.