/Researchers give Delta students, teachers resources to rediscover and teach Fannie Lou Hamer

Researchers give Delta students, teachers resources to rediscover and teach Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper turned civil rights activist, became aware of the fact in 2012. They began to look for ways to provide teachers with the artifacts that they needed to help them educate their students on Hamer’s importance to the civil right movement. Even if that meant copying speeches and songs to a CD-ROM. We’re talking about a week before ceremony. I combined some resources and burned them onto a CD. This is 2012. This is 2012. In a telephone conversation with Mississippi Today, Dr. Maegan Brooks, assistant professor of Willamette University, stated that she tried to send them transcriptions of speeches I’d found. “That really hit me hard. I thought, “That’s tragic. Right here in Sunflower County. Her hometown. Teachers don’t have the resources to get students excited. ” Hamer was instrumental to fighting for equality and first-class citizenship for African Americans. She was a civil rights activist and a voice for her people. Her inspirational songs and the ability to speak out against injustices in the African American community were her hallmark. After researching her for more than a decade, discussions about making a documentary about the Ruleville native’s life and legacy led to a current production. Fannie Lou Hamer’s America will debut in spring 2019. It is told through Hamer’s voice, using public speeches, personal interviews and songs. In a joint effort to include the community, the Sunflower Consolidated Schools District students and teachers will assist researchers in creating a K-12 curriculum and learning about digital and filmmaking. The W.K. Foundation has provided funding to continue Fannie Lou Hamer’s civil rights legacy. The W.K. Foundation, Mississippi Humanities Council and other Delta grants have funded lead researchers and the film crew of Fannie Lou Hamer’s America. Two workshops are being held at Gentry High School, for teachers and students. Teachers received a $200 honorarium, $500 stipend, and a childcare allowance if they were needed. Pablo Correa and Joseph Davenport are the professional filmmakers who spearhead The Young Filmmaker’s Workshop. 17 students from Sunflower District high schools are currently taking part. Brooks explained that students are learning how to use sound and video equipment to tell their stories. This will give them an internship and a job. The students are taught how to make their own films. The workshop began on June 11th and will continue through July 9. Students work Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Students will use equipment donated by the district to help them in the future. Brooks observed the students earlier in the week and was surprised at the unexpected results. According to a news release, this workshop aims to encourage minorities students to enter the field of digital media production. The district is home to 95 percent African Americans. Correa stated in a press release that “I am excited for students to learn new media technology, filmmaking as a career path or course to study.” The workshop will give students the opportunity to practice editing and industry equipment, and engage them in studying Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy. Teachers will however be taking on a different task. Brooks and Davis Houck, Hamer historian, will be hosting an Educator’s Workshop. This workshop is for 11 teachers from various parts of the Delta. It will help them develop Find Your Voice, a Fannie Lou Hamer-inspired K-12 curriculum. Brooks said that teachers will be given the lead authorship of the lesson plan and a line credit for the film. Brooks said, “Last summer, we began writing these proposals like, What if we could go into the Delta and get in some classrooms and work alongside K-12 educators who do this every day and know what’s going inspire and excite students?” Brooks and Houck had already created lesson plans and used them as a backdrop for receiving feedback from Delta educators. Brooks stated that they hope to host more workshops and continue to reach teachers in the future. Brooks stated that they want the workshop to be rooted in the Delta, and grow out of the Delta community where she is from. Learn more about the Fannie Lou Hamer’s America, here or email flhamerica@gmail.com.