Oxford University Press recently released “Walk with Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer” by award-winning historian and biographer Kate Clifford Larson. “Walk with Me” has received glowing advance reviews. Publishers Weekly in their positive review “gives a lesser-known activist her due.” In their starred review, Kirkus says, “with diligent research featuring new sources, Larson brings her subject into a well-deserved spotlight.” And Library Journal calls it “an inspiring read for activists fighting for voting rights and against racism,” in their starred review.
In this much-anticipated biography, Larson—best known for her critically acclaimed and bestselling biographies “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero” and “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter”—offers a breathtaking account of Hamer’s full history for a general audience. “Walk with Me” captures Hamer’s interior life, shaped and fortified by family and faith, and illuminates the forces that made her an electrifying presence when she walked onto stages across the country during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Few historical figures embody the courage, sacrifice, and inspired heroism of Fannie Lou Hamer. The 20th child of poor Mississippi Delta sharecroppers struggling to raise their children in a place governed by racism and violence, Hamer survived because of her mother’s determination and a commitment to imbue pride and confidence in her daughter.
As the Civil Rights Movement emerged during the 1950s, Hamer was toiling with her husband on the same lands her ancestors ploughed, planted, and harvested. When a white doctor (whom Larson names for the first time in this book) sterilized her without her permission in 1961, she channeled her anger into voting rights activism.
Brutally beaten because she wanted to vote, Hamer survived to carry her fury to the 1964 Democratic National Convention, where, in a searing televised appearance that brought many to tears, she begged Americans to end racial injustice. She stood up to influential civil rights leaders who tried to dismiss her because she was female, poor, and uneducated. Her powerful voice, in song and speeches, inspired millions to stand up and speak out against inequality.
Praised for her research and insights as a biographer, Larson digs deep into Hamer’s history, uncovering her family roots, personal life, and reclaims Hamer’s faith as a centerpiece of her survival and appeal. Larson accessed recently opened FBI records, secret Oval Office tapes, new interviews, and more, to reveal never seen details about Hamer’s life.
“Walk with Me” offers a fresh and stirring reappraisal of Hamer’s life and impact on the Civil Rights Movement. It couldn’t be timelier. Hamer’s struggles and her fight for the right to vote ties her to current events, including Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. Fannie Lou Hamer’s legacy stirs in the work of activist Stacey Abrams and other women and men demanding equality, justice, and access to the ballot.
For more information about “Walk with Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer,” visit https://tinyurl.com/3jd3jy94.