At the Democratic Party Convention in June 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer, a former sharecropper from Mississippi, recounted the racist brutality of southern law enforcement to a national audience. She told of her first attempt to register to vote in 1962 and the white plantation owner who evicted her on learning of the application. She told of the 16 bullets fired into the house of friends where she slept days later. And she told of the day in June, 1963, when she was arrested in Montgomery County, when two black prisoners at the county jail were ordered to beat her until they were exhausted, and when she was sexually assaulted by a state highway patrolman. Suffering partial blindness, kidney damage, serious leg injuries, and bruising across her body, Hamer was still in jail three days later when Byron de la Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council, an organization committed to the preservation of white supremacy, assassinated Medgar Evers, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Mississippi field secretary.
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