“All my life I’ve been sick and tired. Now I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” – Fannie Lou Hamer, Civil Rights Activist
Some people get tired of fighting for what they believe in and give up. Others get tired, get angry, and fight harder. Fannie Lou Hamer would be in that second, much rarer group of extraordinary people. She spoke her mind, including the words in the above quote, during her fight for voting rights and political equality in the Deep South during the 1960s. She was jailed, beaten, slandered but still kept marching forward in the quest for basic rights for African Americans. After nearly a decade of political activism which often landed her in the spotlight, she remained active in a slightly quieter way as she pursued many grassroots endeavors regarding nutrition and food justice in economically vulnerable areas. Hamer started a “pig bank” in 1968 which provided local families with the opportunity to ‘borrow’ a pregnant gilt and then raise the piglets for food. About 300 families benefited from the program. The Freedom Farm Co-op was started in Sunflower County, Mississippi in 1969 and by 1972 was providing local families with approximately 70 acres worth of fresh produce. Hamer was also active in the Head Start program which provided education, health, and nutrition services to low-income children and their families.
As the food justice movement strengthens, expands, and is certainly challenged along the way, we can look at the life and work of Fannie Lou Hamer as inspiration to keep fighting for what we believe in, as sick and tired of the obstacles as we may become.
In honor of Hamer and her fight for food justice, Project New Village in Southeastern San Diego is holding a legacy luncheon on Thursday October 4, 11:30am – 1:30pm at the Bethel Baptist Church Campus (1962 Euclid Avenue San Diego, CA 92105)