Fannie Lou Hamer marker set to be unveiled

October 1, 2020

After months of planning and COVID-19 delays, the Fannie Lou Hamer Marker, spearheaded by Mississippi Valley State University Students, honoring the 1965 Voting Rights Act, is finally ready to be revealed.

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m., a ceremony will be held in front of the Sunflower County Courthouse located at 200 Second Street, Indianola, Mississippi. 

Dr. C Sade Turnipseed, who currently serves as an adjunct professor at MVSU  and students from her Public History course, worked diligently on the project, led by 17-year-old Brian Diyaolu.

"At MVSU, we care about historical figures in America. We want to make sure these cherished and important people are remembered,” said Diyaolu. “Individuals are remembered in the sands of time, and Mrs. Hamer falls in this category of people, so we made it our sacred duty to honor her contributions so that she is not forgotten," he added.

MVSU President Dr. Jerryl Briggs, Sr., supported the project and shared what it means to the University and the students to be involved.

"Here at MVSU, we pride ourselves on putting students first, and Dr. Turnipseed truly does just that. I congratulate her and the students on this outstanding accomplishment. Understanding the significance of our nation's history is extremely important because, through this knowledge, we can build stronger communities," said Briggs. 

Turnipseed said the location of the marker is significant.

"This is the historic spot where Fannie Lou Hamer, and other Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) members, stood in protest of voter suppression in the state of Mississippi and throughout the American South," she said. 

"The date of the unveiling is significant because Mrs. Hamer was born on that day in 1917, on a cotton plantation in Sunflower County. This would have been Mrs. Hamer's 103rd birthday celebration."

The group received financial support from the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors, Khafre, Inc, Bell Grove Baptist Church, and other concerned citizens.

The historical marker will be the world's first commemorating Hamer's courageous stance to ensure all Americans' voting rights.

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, guaranteeing African Americans the right to vote, due in no small measure to Mrs. Hamer's and several other members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) advocacy.    

Turnipseed expressed that the institution is committed to positively impacting the quality of life and creating extraordinary educational opportunities for the Mississippi Delta and beyond. 

"This public history endeavor allowed MVSU students to reach new heights by demonstrating their appreciation for the contributions that Mrs. Hamer and her contemporaries made to America."