I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” -Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1979)
You may not know who she is or what she did but you probably know this famous quote from Fannie Lou Hamer. Now let’s talk about what she did and why she said that.
Fannie Lou Hamer became widely known as the “Spirit” of the Civil Rights movement. She risked her life to register to vote in Mississippi in the 1960s. When she encouraged others to do the same she was evicted from the farm where she lived and her husband was fired.
Unable to find work Fannie Lou and her husband continued to organize people to register to vote. Despite being arrested and severely beaten in jail she helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which went to the 1964 Democratic National Convention and challenged the all-white Mississippi delegation which she helped integrate in 1968.
Fannie Lou Hamer also organized cooperatives to fight hunger and joblessness. The cooperative movement allowed Blacks to leave the plantations where they were sharecroppers and set up their own farms in a cooperative manner where they profited from the farms together.
Clearly this quote has implications about health. Whether racism, environmental issues or environmental issues caused by racism, these problems in our society are toxic, have negative effects on our health and can depress the spirit.
One of the things I like the most about Fannie Lou Hamer, besides the fact that she was such an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement and a woman, is that she spoke differently from Martin Luther King Jr or anyone else except maybe Malcolm X. In fact, Malcolm X didn’t like flowery introductions when he was going to speak and he would ask the person introducing him to “Make it plain.” That’s exactly what Fannie Lou Hamer did. She made it plain. How could anyone not understand “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”?
The statement is so clear it leaves no room for confusion. These are the words of someone either already taking action or about to take action.
It begs the question: What are you going to take action on? What are you sick and tired of being sick and tired of?