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Fannie Lou Hamer: Civil Rights Activist lesson plan

OVERVIEW

Fannie Lou Hamer was a native Mississippian who emerged as a state and national leader during the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s. In 1962, after attempting to register to vote, Hamer was fired from her job. Despite being subjected to arrest and a brutal beating, Hamer continued to lead a struggle for civil rights on the state and national levels. Until her death, Hamer remained politically active with particular concern given to the plight of poor minorities in her native state. Fannie Lou Hamer was laid to rest on March 14, 1977, in Ruleville, Mississippi. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993, for her courageous leadership and accomplishments.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 3 and 4. 

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 7 through 12

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article on Fannie Lou Hamer

Chalk and chalkboard

Overhead projector, transparencies and pens

Pens/pencils

Unlined paper

Poster board

Colored pencils and markers

Notebook paper

Various reference books

OBJECTIVES

The student will:

Determine the leadership characteristics of Mississippi civil rights leader Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer.

Create a Women’s History Month program honoring native Mississippian Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer.

OPENING THE LESSON

The teacher will ask the students to name Mississippi women who have made contributions to not only state history, but to national history. The teacher will record student responses on the board. The teacher will ask the students which Mississippi women have been inducted into the National Women’s History Hall of Fame (Order of induction - Ida B. Wells, Fannie Lou Hamer, Oprah Winfrey, and Eudora Welty). Students may or may not be able to suggest these names during the opener. If not, the teacher will guide the students to generate this list in the class discussion. The teacher will tell the students that they are going to have an opportunity to study Mississippian Fannie Lou Hamer in class over the next several days. Also, in honor of Women’s History Month they will create a program to honor Mrs. Hamer.

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

Instruct students to read the Mississippi History Now article about Fannie Lou Hamer. As students read the article, have them list what they feel are Hamer’s six strongest leadership characteristics. The characteristics should be listed on a chart similar to the one found at the end of this lesson plan. Students can also be creative in the type of format they use to chart Fannie Lou Hamer’s leadership qualities. Students should list one example from Hamer’s life where she displayed each characteristic. Students can work individually or with a partner for this portion of the lesson.

2.

Once the students complete the leadership chart, ask for student volunteers to share examples from their charts with the class. The teacher can place a chart on an overhead transparency or the chalkboard in order to record student responses. A class discussion can be led as the responses are shared with the class.

3.

After the class discussion, the teacher will inform students that they will be in charge of planning a Women’s History Month celebration for their class (this program can be planned for the entire grade-level or school as well). The celebration can focus on native Mississippian Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer.

4.

The teacher will place the students into groups of four for the Women’s History Month program. Each group can complete the following tasks or each group can be assigned one of the following tasks. If each group completes the following tasks, a contest can be conducted to determine which item from each category will be used for the celebration. The students can use the Mississippi History Now article as well as other resources to create the assignments listed below.

 

a.


An invitation to the Women’s History Month celebration honoring Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer

 

b.

A poster commemorating Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer’s contributions to history

 

c.

 

A speech about Mrs. Hamer contributions to history that will be read at the program

 

d.

 

Song selections that will be performed at the event that honor Mrs. Hamer’s musical talent and love of music

 

e.

Decorations for the event

 

f.

A poem to be read in honor of Mrs. Hamer

5.

Allow the students to carry out this Women’s History Month program.

CONCLUDING THE LESSON

1.

Ask the students to write a paragraph describing what they feel was the greatest contribution Fannie Lou Hamer made to Mississippi as well as to United States history. Allow student volunteers to read their paragraphs to the class.

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

1.

Class participation

2.

Charts

3.

Invitations

4.

Poster

5.

Speeches

6.

Poems

EXTENDING THE LESSON

1.

Invite a guest speaker to the class to talk about voter registration and the importance of voting.

2.

Conduct a collection of oral histories of citizens in the local area that experienced the civil rights era of the mid-20th century.

3.

Show segment entitled “Mississippi: Is this America?” from the series Eyes on the Prize . Teachers can order this video from Mississippi History on Loan, a program at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Call the audiovisual coordinator at
601-961-4724.

4.

Students can write an essay that responds to Hamer’s statement, “All of this is on account we want to register, to become first class citizens, and if the Freedom Democratic Party if not seated now, I question America.” The essay should address why Hamer questioned America.

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