Fannie Lou Hamer: Appropriating Nikki Giovanni’s Rosa Parks

Fannie Lou Hamer (Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History)

This is for the people who refuse to vote even though

The souls before them fought tooth and nail and dog and 

Burning cross and over stretched neck and bullet for

A chance to scribble their voice on a ballot. 

This is for the silly fools that get riled up about each 

mahogany and caramel and pecan and cocoa and hickory

and chestnut name that is pulled from the file cabinet of 

final breaths and faxed directly to God. 

“We are not our ancestors” drools from the corners of their lips

and all the while, they can’t even boycott Gucci or Chick-Fil-A

or H&M or Mei Ling’s Beauty Supply, where “black bitch”

sits in her eyes the moment you walk in for a pack of hair. 

All she says is “yes, we have B5.” This is for a plantation

time keeper that would soon read and write a nation’s 

victory, whose uterine tumor was not an invitation for 

a Mississippi Appendectomy, a hysterectomy. History rectifies

that the hands of white doctors are only “protecting” me. 

This is for the cold conscience of J. Marion Sims, 

the father of gynecology, son of sin, bastard child of barbarians.

This is for the black vaginas that never knew anesthesia,

only aches and anguish and foreign objects and wandering eyes.

This is for the consent Henrietta Lacks lacked, here is

a thank you from a mother that has been two years cancer-free

because your incessant cells dance to ward off decider sunsets. 

This is for the hopeful hostages with “bad blood” that crawled, 

went blind, insane, longing to touch the hemline of penicillin but

Syphilis, science, and sadism, the reigning champs, outran them all. 

This is for the time keeper, that dusted the footsteps of 

her oppressors for clues of deliverance, that sat in a jail cell,

singing reveille for all the wicked and wearied spirits so 

we could chuckle about “whites only pies” and it not cost 

us our Life. This is for the co-founder of the

 Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party that floated into 

that lion’s den of a National Democratic Convention in ‘64,

One of the first black women to roar for representation at

The Mississippi House of Representatives. This is for the poured

cement of Freedom Summer that was drenched in the blood of 

Chaney, Schwermer, and Goodman, foundations that never 

saw the ballot becoming a Bible for battered black bodies. 

This is for Auntie Maxine troubling the Waters, reclaiming 

all the time Fannie Lou should’ve been on vacation. This is for all 

the people that hustled to the frontline, ready 

to be peeled from the trenches of second-best. This is for the “piggy

bank” and Freedom Farm Cooperative that didn’t wait on W.I.C to

silence rumbling bellies and equip landless black farmers

with financial security. Fannie Lou Hamer praised bridges

she built from fearlessness, 

falling five feet four inches 

toward freedom, 


knowing damn well I would fly. 

These wings are as heavy as she

said they’d be. 


Sign-up for our free daily newsletter to receive local news & culture in your inbox