“We want to live as decent human beings”: Fannie Lou Hamer in “March”

Matthew Teutsch
15 min readMay 5, 2022

In a recent post, I wrote about a couple of individuals and events that I wish the March Trilogy spent some more time exploring. As I said in that post, I know that the trilogy could not cover everything and everyone involved in the Civil Rights Movement; however, as we move towards book three, we begin to see more of the movement outside of John Lewis’ direct involvement. I assume this has to do with the success of books one and two and the knowledge that book three would be the culmination of the trilogy. We see references to Virgil Lamar Ware, Johnny Robinson, Viola Lizzuo, James Reeb, and more. We see how the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson in Marion, Alabama, sparked the Selma to Montgomery March. We see so much more, and yet even when we see so much more, we still do not see everything. Again, that is not a shock, and it goes to show how much more there is to the movement, not just the buttressed years of 1955–1965, but to the lengthy history before 1955 and to the arc of the future following 1965.

While every individual and event couldn’t get covered, I was happy to see a more detailed and in-depth, to a certain extent, depiction of Fannie Lou Hamer and her involvement in the movement, specifically in Mississippi with the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party. This possibly arose because while I reread book three I also read Keisha Blain’s Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America, so I began to think more broadly about Hamer’s influence and role in Mississippi, nationally, and beyond.

At the age of 44, Hamer attended a SNCC meeting in August 1962 where she heard James Bevel, James Forman, and more speak about her constitutional rights, namely her right to vote. Reflecting on that night, Hamer said,

And he talked about, you know, what we could do if we had the power of the vote. And during that time, Jim Forman was talking about how it was our right and how they’d passed the Fifteenth Amendment that I’d never heard of, I was one of the persons that made up my mind that this was something important to me. And it seemed like it was something that I wanted to take a chance on.

A few days after the meeting, Hamer went to Indionloa, MS, along with others, to register to vote. When she returned to the plantation…

Matthew Teutsch

Here, you will find reflections on African American, American, and Southern Literature, American popular culture and politics, and pedagogy.