This Speech Changed Black Voting Rights in America

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Civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer bore witness to the violence of Jim Crow and demanded inclusion of black delegates in the Democratic Party. (Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

Fifty-two years ago, on August 22, 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer delivered arguably the most significant speech of her political career. The fiery civil rights activist known for her iconic line, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” spoke before a televised audience at the 1964 Democratic National Convention (DNC), held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

She had traveled all the way from Mississippi on behalf of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP)  — an organization that was established in April 1964 to challenge the all-white Mississippi delegation to the DNC. Her televised speech, delivered before millions, addressed two central issues that remain relevant in contemporary black political discourse: voter suppression and state-sanctioned violence. [Full Article]