Party Resolutions


Approved 3/17/2024


WHEREAS, Fannie Lou Hamer was born in Montgomery County, Mississippi in 1917, the youngest of 20 children, she spent her life as a sharecropper with little formal education, but still loved to read as much as she could. She was forced to drop out of school at age 12 to help support her family, and

WHEREAS, At age 27, Ms. Hamer married Perry “Pap” Hamer. She tried to have a family, but instead had several miscarriages. In 1961 a white doctor gave her a hysterectomy without her consent while undergoing surgery to remove a uterine tumor. This practice was so commonly performed on poor Black women that it was called a “Mississippi appendectomy”, and

WHEREAS, in the summer of 1962, Ms. Hamer attended a meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was deeply inspired to register to vote, and to work to help others do the same, despite knowing the life-threatening dangers for Black people trying to access the ballot box in the state of Mississippi, and

WHEREAS, throughout 1963, Ms. Hamer became an active member of SNCC and was jailed and beaten by law enforcement officers many times for being a driving force with other activists in the fight to register Black voters. One of the many beatings that she sustained left her with permanent kidney damage, a blood clot behind her left eye, and a permanent limp; and

WHEREAS, in the mid-1960s, in Ms. Hamer’s pursuit, in her words, “to work for my people, for the rest of my life,” she became one of the grassroots leaders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), at the height of the Civil Rights Movement; and

WHEREAS, at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, held in Atlantic City, NJ, Ms. Hamer and other Black activists sought to be seated on the floor of the Convention, in place of the all-white Mississippi Democratic delegation, which had been elected through fraud and violence. Although denied delegate seating, Fannie Lou Hamer riveted the nation in her live televised testimony at the convention. It is well documented by historians that President Johnson called an emergency press conference to divert the networks from Ms. Hamer’s transfixing testimony and then offered the Freedom Party a compromise:  two non-voting seats accompanying the white delegation. Ms. Hamer’s unforgettable historical response was simply, “We didn’t come all this way for no two seats!”; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Hamer and the Freedom Democratic Party returned home to Mississippi, without being seated at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, the effort proved her to be a powerful orator and uncompromising activist. Fannie Lou Hamer traveled the country, throughout the remainder of her life, raising awareness of civil and human rights, from her humble beginnings as a sharecropper; and

WHEREAS, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) honored Fannie Lou Hamer in 2021 with a production of playwright Cheryl L. West’s “Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer.” Nataki Garrett, the OSF Artistic Director at the time, described the production as “an inspiring call to action to continue Hamer’s work”; and

WHEREAS, Fannie Lou Hamer died in 1977 at age 59, officially from cancer and heart disease, but it was really from being poor, Black, and an activist in Mississippi at a time when all of these “conditions” were lethal; and

WHEREAS,  Ambassador Andrew Young, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, gave Ms. Hamer’s eulogy saying that the seeds of social change in America “were sown here by the sweat and blood of you and Fannie Lou Hamer.”


As a state and as a nation, WE CELEBRATE AND HONOR THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF MS. FANNIE LOU HAMER. In honoring Ms. Hamer, we honor American history, Black excellence, leadership, culture, creativity, resistance, and the resilience that makes us a more perfect version of ourselves. 

Submitted by Rosa Colquitt, PhD, Chair, Democratic Party of Oregon; Michael Smith, Gun Owners Caucus; Kelie McWilliams, Polk County; Lisa Cejka, Marion County; Miles Pendleton, Lane County; James Posey, Multnomah County; Priscilla Smith, Rural Caucus; Jeff Denny, Clatsop County; Mike Gardner, Clackamas County; Cole Daneman, Jackson County; James Farley, Clackamas County; Andy Davis, Clatsop County; Shani Harris-Bagwell, Multnomah County; Nathan Soltz, DPO Secretary

Drafted with support by Michele Wise and Ronnie Wise, former Mississippi activist, current  Washington County Democratic Party activists and PCPs. 

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