Fannie Lou Hamer at the Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1964
After the Supreme Court struck down legal segregation in schools with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the fight for equal access in other arenas intensified. In Montgomery, Alabama, African Americans boycotted segregated buses; people filed suit to desegregate schools. Civil rights activists organized “Freedom Rides” to challenge Southern states’ authority to mandate segregation on interstate travel. As the experiences of Freedom Riders revealed the entrenchment of segregation, volunteers traveled to the South to help register African Americans to vote. In 1964, African Americans in Mississippi who had been denied the right to vote formed their own political party, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Members traveled to New Jersey to attend the Democratic National Convention, and one of their delegates, Fannie Lou Hamer, spoke at the convention.
Fannie Lou Hamer at the Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey, August 22, 1964. Photograph by Warren K. Leffler. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.