‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired’


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Fannie Lou Hamer’s declaration is still a rallying cry for Black people in Milwaukee

By James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As daily protests continue to course through Milwaukee and cities across the country, the initial burst of fury over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police has blown open to reveal a deep, roiling rage in the souls of African Americans.

Jesse Ambos-Kleckley, 30, marches with others in downtown Milwaukee to bring attention to police brutality on June 16. Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Nearly six decades ago, that rage appeared in the person of Fannie Lou Hamer, a Black sharecropper from Mississippi who sat before the Credentials Committee at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in August 1964. Frustrated that her state party only allowed white members, Hamer urged the committee to recognize as delegates the members of a separate party that she had co-founded.

She mesmerized the committee — and a national audience watching later in the evening — with her harrowing story of being threatened, jailed and beaten with a blackjack for trying to exercise her voting rights.

Four months later, Hamer would speak passionately about the Southern Black experience before an audience at the Williams Institutional CME Church in Harlem in New York. She called Mississippi “the land of the tree and the home of the grave.”

And she declared: “For 300 years, we’ve given them time. And I’ve been tired so long, now I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

It became a rallying cry for the Black community across the nation…

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