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This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer

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Overview

WITH A FOREWORD BY MARION WRIGHT EDELMAN The award-winning biography of black civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. "Riveting. Provides a history that helps us to understand the choices made by so many black men and women of Hamer's generation, who somehow found the courage to join a movement in which they risked everything." —New York Times Book Review "One is forced to pause and consider that this black daughter of the Old South might have been braver than King and Malcolm." —Washington Post Book World "An epic that nurtures us as we confront today's challenges and helps us Keep Hope Alive.'" —Jesse L. Jackson "Not only does This Little Light of Mine recount a vital part of America"s history, but it lights our future as readers are inspired anew by Mrs. Hamer's spirit, courage, and commitment." —Marian Wright Edelman "This book is the essence of raw courage. It must be read." —Rep. John Lewis

Among the most important figures of the Civil Rights movement, Fannie Lou Hamer rose from difficult circumstances to dedicate her life to battling racism and poverty. Mills vividly recreates the optimism and excitement of the movement, as well as the tension, uncertainty, and danger faced by Hamer and her colleagues. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mills' book is worth reading, not only because it is well written and thoroughly researched, but also because it describes the life of a person who would rank in the top 10 of the most important and essential Mississippians of the last 50 years." —Jackson Free Press" —

"A solid addition for biography, civil rights, and African American studies collections in public and academic libraries." — Michael Rogers, Library Journal" —

"Fifteen years after the book's initial release, this edition of This Little Light of Mine continues to solidify its stance as a worthy contribution to the canon of civil rights-era historical scholarship. Mills's book stands as essential reading for anyone interested in the inner-workings of the civil rights movement." —Wesley Tyler French, Journal of Mississippi History" —

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An unlettered Mississippi cotton-picker, Fannie Lou Hamer 1918-1977 led the black Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic Convention and was, to many in the civil rights movement, ``the most inspirational person they ever knew.'' In this thorough, sensitive biography, Mills A Place in the News shows Hamer inspired by her mother and her faith, propelled by anger at her unbidden sterilization and sustained by deeply spiritual, invoking songs, like the one that serves as this book's title. Drawing on published sources and interviews with principals, Mills reconstructs the efforts of civil rights activists to register fearful rural voters, depicts how Hamer shifted ``from private outrage to public person'' and describes how her politics evolved to include social reconstruction. Mills doesn't ignore complexities: she details controversies over Hamer's role in a local Mississippi Head Start program and in a race for Democratic national committeewoman and indicates that certain middle-class blacks were alienated from her. The book emphasizes Hamer's public life more than her private one; Mills notes that Hamer rarely spoke about her family. Photos not seen by PW. Jan.
Library Journal
Journalist Mills has written a moving, inspiring biography of black activist Fannie Lou Hamer. The daughter and wife of poor Mississippi sharecroppers, Hamer was ``converted'' to the Civil Rights movement after attending a mass voter-registration meeting in 1962. For the next 15 years, she was in the forefront of major struggles in Mississippi involving voter registration and economic and educational rights for its black citizens. To Mills, Hamer's ability to influence people came from a combination of energy, powerful public speaking, and an extraordinary talent in music and singing. While hardly perfect she lacked organizational skills and too often refused to compromise, Fannie Lou Hamer was an inspiration to thousands of ``foot soldiers'' in the movement. This beautifully written tribute is highly recommended.-- Anthony O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, Ind.
Library Journal

Hamer was a poor, uneducated Southern black woman who was literally treated worse than her employer's dog. When the Civil Rights Movement flowered in the early 1960s, Hamer exclaimed she was "sick and tired of being sick and tired" (she has coined this phrase) and took action. She started many programs to help the poor gain better housing and job training, founded the National Women's Political Caucus, was the first black delegate at a national political convention since Reconstruction, and much, much more. Although not as well known as other Civil Rights figures, Hamer did as much for that cause as anyone. This edition of Mills's 1994 biography contains a new foreword by children's advocate Marian Wright Edelman. A solid addition for biography, civil rights, and African American studies collections in public and academic libraries.


—Michael Rogers
School Library Journal
YA-A biography that captures the pain, sorrow, and joy of a spirited woman who fought for basic human rights. Born into a black sharecroppers' family in rural Mississippi, Hamer was always reaching out; as a child she would hop off a truck to retrieve a scrap of paper so she would have something to read. Undeterred by the threat of personal injury and the loss of her job, she organized and encouraged members of her race to register to vote. Mills chronicles Hamer's life and her resilience in the face of setbacks, showing how her indomitable light continues to shine.- Mary I. Quinn, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
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