Teaching Guide: Exploring Fannie Lou Hamer and the Civil Rights Movement in Rural Mississippi

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, Fannie Lou Hamer and the Civil Rights Movement in Rural Mississippi, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. Describe how Hamer connects the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam in her speech captured in the news clip.
  2. After viewing the photographs of the plantation worker, plantation store, and day laborers, describe how they reflect the conditions in which Hammer grew up, lived, and worked for more than 40 years before becoming active in the civil rights movement. How did these conditions lead to her activism in the Mississippi Delta during the civil rights movement?
  3. Describe Hamer’s thoughts on healthcare for African Americans as reported in the article from Memphis World.
  4. Considering the article about Freedom Summer and the photograph of participants at a Freedom Summer meeting, describe the Freedom Summer movement in 1964.

Classroom activities

  1. Using documents in this set, write a brief narrative of the ways that the Freedom Summer impacted voting access in Mississippi, paying particular attention to significant obstacles faced by the activists as well as the triumphs they achieved.
  2. Considering Hamer’s anti-war speech in the news clip, Belafonte’s statements about Hamer’s beliefs in his interview, and the two newspaper articles about Hamer, write a one-page fictional account of how Hamer would respond to the following contemporary events: the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

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