(4 / 5) – Worth It!
Before reading “Until I Am Free” by Keisha N. Blain I didn’t know much about Fannie Lou Hamer. I knew her name. I knew she was a Black woman who fought for civil rights and that was about the extent of my knowledge. Blain offers a portrait of Hamer that captures her spirit and tenacity and elicits awe and then righteous anger that her story isn’t more widely known.
Blain weaves together an epic telling of Hamer’s life from her childhood days working as a sharecropper through her inspiration and determination to become a civil right activist. She keeps Hamer’s humanity front and center even as she describes Hamer’s lasting influence on American history. Blain maintains Hamer’s humanity. Hamer was a visionary who was far beyond her time when it came to racial equality and the ways white supremacy damages all of us, while remaining a woman of her time and context.
I was able to listen to this book read by Tyra Kennedy and it was a wonderful medium for this telling of an often forgotten woman who worked tirelessly and at the risk of life to bring change into this world. Kennedy’s voice lends a gravitas and humanity to the story that might be lost in the reading.
Whether you know much about Fannie Lou Hamer or not, this book is an excellent addition to your reading list and I would especially recommend it to those who don’t know much of her life and influence. She helped shape this country and our thinking around civil rights far into the 21st century and her life story, with all its ups and downs deserves to be read, known and rightfully celebrated in American history.