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Fannie Lou Hamer. [1917 – 1977]
“The granddaughter of a slave, the daughter of sharecroppers, and the younger sister to nineteen siblings, she was intelligent, hardworking, and loved to read, but she was also dark-skinned, uneducated, and a woman, a recipe for failure in rural Mississippi.”
“One day in 1961, Hamer entered the hospital to have “a knot on my stomach”—probably a benign uterine fibroid tumor—removed. She then returned home to her family’s shack on the plantation to recuperate.”
The surgeon decided to remove her entire uterus without her knowledge, rendering her sterile. The rage in Hamer continued to build, driving her to try to register to vote; she was rejected from the voting polls.
“It didn’t matter, because Hamer was no longer a sharecropper. She was now a political dynamo who would become one of the most powerful leaders and symbols of the southern civil rights movement. She always spoke of her “Mississippi appendectomy” as the galvanizing force that propelled her into a national leadership role, and she always spoke regretfully of the children she would never have.”
“She was a lifelong opponent of birth control.”
-Harriet A. Washington