In 1962 Fannie Lou Hamer, a farm-worker in Mississippi, became determined to pass the literacy test southern states used to keep black citizens from voting.
As a result, she was fired from her job, lost her home, and was shot at, but she did pass the test and began teaching others how to pass it.
Determined, as she put it, “to bring in justice where we’ve had so much injustice,” she joined many civil rights demonstrations and was severely beaten at one point.
In 1964 she and other activists challenged the all-white delegation representing Mississippi at the Democratic Party’s national convention.
Her speech there was televised, and she convinced many Americans to support the civil rights movement with her description of the beatings she and others had received while fighting for basic rights.