The eighteen curricular units provided here carry forth Fannie Lou Hamer’s spirit by encouraging students to reflect on injustices that surround them and to speak out through the creation of their own speeches, film sketches, opinion editorials, debates, narrative poems, and much more. We sincerely hope you and your students enjoy learning more about Fannie Lou Hamer through the materials we’ve created. Most importantly, we hope you are all inspired to Find Your Voice!
Primary: Grades K-5
Early learners will find their voices through this unit by drawing inspiration from Hamer’s activism, considering problems within their own communities, and creating protest slogans to bring greater awareness to these problems. In this manner, students will come to recognize their potential to become community helpers, who advocate for a more just world.
Drawing inspiration from Hamer’s performance of “The Little Light of Mine,” in addition to her autobiography and a biography written about her, students will reflect on how they can let their little lights shine in their communities.
The Guiding Lights Unit encourages students to find their voices by introducing them to an inspirational figure from history, inviting them to recognize inspirational figures from their communities, and encouraging them to share what is inspirational about these figures through a variety of media.
Students are encouraged to find their voice throughout this unit. In particular, students will benefit from reporting to the class about partner and group projects, identifying adjectives to describe themselves and to describe Fannie Lou Hamer, as well as being empowered to form their own opinions about the most significant aspects of Hamer’s biography.
Students will learn more about Fannie Lou Hamer’s contributions to her community and to the larger country. They will also gain practice posing and responding to substantive questions about Hamer’s life and legacy.
Students recognize poetry as a form of self-expression, a means of telling a story, and of considering alternative points of view. Students gain practice communicating in prose as well as nonverbally, as they consider the performative power of facial expressions and physical gestures. Students are inspired by Fannie Lou Hamer’s example to speak up, speak out, and let their voices be heard.
Devin Leach of Tutwiler, Mississippi created an instrumental beat to accompany the two poems written by Mrs. Valerie Fairley and provided within the "Fannie Lou Hamer: Let Your Voice Be Heard" lesson plan. Consider having your students read the poetry to the provided beat.
Secondary: Grades 6-12
Within this lesson, students are inspired by Fannie Lou Hamer’s emphatic opposition to the Vietnam War and they are empowered to creatively present a portion of Hamer’s activist career through the timeline presentation activities.
Students are encouraged to find their voices by creating a presentation about one family living in the Mississippi Delta in the year 1940. Through this process of primary source engagement, students will also come to find their voices--by reflecting in writing and orally to big questions regarding the legacy of racism in the United States.
Students will be inspired by Fannie Lou Hamer’s powerful testimony at the 1964 Democratic National Convention and they will learn about the larger strategy used by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to gain political representation for Black people. They will interpret Hamer’s lasting legacy in their own words and share what it means to “Fight Like Fannie Lou” with their class.
Students will become inspired by the life and activism of Fannie Lou Hamer told through visual images they encounter on their gallery walk. They will find their voices by presenting what they consider to be the most interesting aspects of their collaborative image analysis to the class. Further, as they are encouraged to imagine their own historical marker/memorial, students will find their voice by creating a flyer announcing the unveiling of their marker, intended for broad distribution.
Students are encouraged to find their own voices by experiencing the transformative power of song, reflecting upon the role songs play within movements for social change, and critically examining the role of artist-allies. Further, students should be encouraged to express their views regarding the complex practice of allyship in writing, speech, or through a musical performance.
Students recognize how images have been used in American History and today. Students are inspired by examples of images to relay emotions and concepts and are encouraged to use photography to capture feelings and document oppression, struggle, and resiliency in their own lives. Students are encouraged to find their own voices by capturing photos which highlight their personal stories.
Students are inspired by Fannie Lou Hamer to find their own activist voices. Just as Hamer identified problems in her community and developed solutions to solve those problems, so too are students encouraged to raise awareness about contemporary community problems.
Students recognize how voices have been silenced in American History and today. Students are also inspired by examples of resistance to this oppression—Barack Obama, Fannie Lou Hamer, and the MFDP. Students are also encouraged to find their own voices by speaking out against contemporary voter disenfranchisement.
Students will learn more about the broader context surrounding Fannie Lou Hamer's activism, including the formation of the Citizens' Council and the lynching of Emmett Till. Students are encouraged to find their voices by collaboratively working to create poems or song lyrics, connecting Hamer's struggle to the memory of Emmett Till.
Through the process of primary source analysis and in the face of competing claims, students will be encouraged to develop an opinion on a controversial issue and argue for one side. Students will also consider the merits of the opposing side and reflect on the complexity of public memory.
Download the entire Find Your Voice K-12 Curriculum, including the editor's introduction, all eighteen curricular units, and additional resources: Fannie Lou Hamer biographical sketch, an image gallery, a timeline, and transcript plus the recording of her 1964 Credentials Committee Testimony at the Democratic National Convention.