Voice of Freedom Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement / Carole Boston Weatherford
Candlewick Press ISBN 9780763665319
INT Ages Rating: 5
Award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford pens a biographical picture book that celebrates the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, called the “number one freedom-fighting woman” by Malcolm X (inside book jacket).
In 1917, Fannie Lou was born in Sunflower Country, MS. She was the youngest of twenty children. At age six, Fannie Lou starts working in the fields, eventually dropping out of school in sixth grade. She grows up and marries Pap Hamer. They adopt two little girls when they couldn’t have children due to a sterilization operation.
Fannie Lou begins singing at rallies, endures a beating, stands trial, and receives death threats. In 1964 Fannie Lou joins the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party, visits Africa with singer Harry Belafonte, marches with Dr. King, works for Stokely Carmichael, starts a HeadStart program, loses a bid for state senate in 1971, and receives a lifelong service award in 1976.
Voice of Freedom includes direct quotations from Fannie Lou Hamer (in italic text within the poems). Ekua Holmes’ illustrations were done in collage on paper. Weatherford’s poetry brings to life an unsung heroine of a turbulent era.
A bibliography as well as a timeline of her life, as well as significant events in the Civil Rights Movement, is also included. Sources for the direct quotations are noted. While the book is a little text-dense, it is an excellent read for older students who will learn how a poor, uneducated black woman had a powerful impact on our nation’s history.
Voice of Freedom Fannie Lou Hamer won the 2016 Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award Winner. It was also a 2016 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book.
Carol R. Gehringer
—reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2016.