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THE RELIGION CORNER: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story

Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye, which means “beautiful heart that sings,” embodies the heart, passion, and activism of Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin combined with the spirit and determination of Fannie Lou Hamer. This is a Broadway-style performance, seen by thousands around the country. See “The Fannie Lou Hamer Story” up close and in person, as Mzuri brings this exciting, one-woman play to the stage!

It’s coming to the Prince George’s Community College, College of Fine Arts Theater on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. Tickets are very reasonable, only $20! If you haven’t read the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, here is a short bio, which describes some of her work. Mzuri Moyo brings this story to life!

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) was a civil rights activist whose passionate depiction of her own suffering in a racist society helped focus attention on the plight of African-Americans throughout the South. In 1964, while working with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Hamer helped organize the 1964 Freedom Summer African-American voter registration drive in her native Mississippi. At the Democratic National Convention later that year, she was part of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, an integrated group of activists who openly challenged the legality of Mississippi’s all-white, segregated delegation.

Born Fannie Lou Townsend on Oct. 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi, as the daughter of sharecroppers, Hamer began working the fields at an early age. Her family struggled financially and often went hungry.

Married to Perry “Pap” Hamer in 1944, Fannie Lou continued to work hard just to get by. In the summer of 1962, however, she made a life-changing decision to attend a protest meeting. She met civil rights activists there who were there to encourage African Americans to register to vote. Hamer became active in helping with the voter registration efforts.

Hamer dedicated her life to the fight for civil rights, working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). This organization was comprised mostly of African American students who engaged in acts of civil disobedience to fight racial segregation and injustice in the South. These acts often were met with violent responses by angry whites. During the course of her activist career, Hamer was threatened, arrested, beaten, and shot at. But none of these things ever deterred her from her work. In 1964, Hamer helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was established in opposition to her state’s all-white delegation to that year’s Democratic convention.

She brought the civil rights struggle in Mississippi to the attention of the entire nation during a televised session at the convention. The next year, Hamer ran for Congress in Mississippi, but she was unsuccessful in her bid. Along with her political activism, Hamer worked to help the poor and families in need in her Mississippi community.

She also set up organizations to increase business opportunities for minorities and to provide child care and other family services. Hamer died of cancer on March 14, 1977, in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

Those behind this production of “The Fannie Lou Hamer Story” also proudly supports legislative efforts to make Juneteenth an official national day of observance like Patriot Day or Flag Day. Immediately following the performance, an area-wide voter registration drive will be held. If you need to register to vote, come to see this dynamic play, and register immediately following the completion of the play. We must turn our federal government around. Please register — your one vote will truly make a significant difference. We need each and every one of you to get out the vote, especially your own.

Voter registration enables your voting power. Mzuri endeavors to empower all Americans while remembering the valiant women of civil rights and social justice such as the spirit of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer and others as they worked during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Voter Registration.

Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email lyndiagrantshowdc@gmail.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.

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Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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