Influential Black Women
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
In the early 1960s it was still the general practice to attempt to stop black people from voting in the South. This was often done by levying taxes against potential black voters, using intimidation strategies such as threatening violence and requiring only black voters to take unfair registration tests. In 1962 Fannie Lou Hamer attended a meeting run by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) regarding black voter registration. Hamer's boss, a farmer who employed Hamer as a sharecropper, discovered that she had attended the meeting and fired Hamer when she refused to agree that she would not register to vote. The combination of the exposure to organized activism coupled with the loss of her job and her civil liberties began Hamer's lifelong pursuit of racial justice and, in particular, equal voting rights. In this photograph Hamer is shown testifying at the 1964 Democratic National Convention about the harassment and beatings she received in her attempts to register to vote.