Book Review: Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America – Keisha N. Blain 

This is a great overview of Mrs. Hamer and the work she did during the Civil Rights movement to help all poor people in this country but especially the poor black folks living in Mississippi where she grew up and spent her life. I listened to this book on Audible but I am certain it would be a fantastic read as well. 

I listened to this book while I was also reading Peniel E. Joseph’s ‘The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.’ and thoroughly enjoyed the crossover between the two as well as the unique perspectives that each book gave to the Civil Rights Movement and the contributions of its various leaders. 

Mrs. Hamer was the youngest of 20 children of poor black sharecroppers in rural Mississippi and due to the dire financial situation of her family, Fanny Lou’s school education ended when she was only 12 years old. However, this in no way inhibited her ability to fight and advocate for the poor and oppressed and in fact, made her uniquely qualified to speak to and about the issues these people faced on a daily basis; hunger, lack of educational opportunities, lack of job opportunities, lack of adequate housing, etc. Because Mrs. Hamer experienced these difficulties herself, her voice rang true and honest whether she was speaking at a town hall in rural Mississippi or at the Democratic National Convention. 

Before reading this book, Fannie Lou Hamer was simply a familiar name lumped into the many ‘familiar names’ I associated with the Civil Rights Movement, I am so grateful that now I can say at least a little about who Mrs. Hamer was and the vital role she played during her lifetime. The sad aspect of this book was realizing that nearly 40 yrs. later, many poor black/white folks in America are still facing the same issues of hunger, racism, financial instability, and lack of adequate housing and jobs that were facing Mrs. Hamer and her contemporaries. Our country can and must do better!

Read on my friends!

-Haddi

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