THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE by Kay Mills

THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE

The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 From former Los Angeles Times editorial writer Mills (A Place in the News, 1988)--a biography more fulsome than definitive of civil-rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. The 20th child of dirt-poor black Mississippi sharecroppers, and with little schooling, Hamer was an unlikely candidate for greatness--but in the late 60's and early 70's, she came to symbolize black efforts to achieve full political and economical participation in the South. In 1962, the 44-year-old Hamer attended a meeting of the Freedom Riders--a meeting that, aimed at organizing black voter registration, would lead to her addressing the Democratic Convention, to national awards, and to invitations to the White House--as well as to jail and a severe beating. Deeply religious and known for her powerful singing (the book's title comes from her favorite freedom song), Hamer challenged the seating of the all-white Mississippi delegation at the 1964 Democratic Convention and the legitimacy of Mississippi's congressional representatives; continued to register voters; ran for Congress against segregationist stalwarts; and called for an end to poverty. Ensuing civil-rights legislation vindicated her efforts, but, by the early 70's, her radicalism--she was against the Vietnam War and favored land redistribution--had alienated many of her supporters. She was, however, as Andrew Young eulogized at her funeral, a woman ``who had the nerve to shake the foundations of this nation.'' Understandably partisan, though a more objective assessment would better serve the indomitable Fannie. Still: a useful reminder of a not-so-distant past, as well as a--perhaps unintentional- -primer on the realities of fame and politics. (Photos--16 pp. b&w- -not seen.)

Pub Date: Jan. 6th, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-93501-0
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1992




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