Episode

10/12 Fannie Lou Hamer And The Trail She Blazed For The Activists Of Today w/ Keisha Blain

October 12, 2021

Sam and Emma host Keisha Blain, Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, to discuss her recent book Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America, on how Hamer’s long life led up to a final decade and a half of incredibly influential activism. Professor Blain walks Emma and Sam back to the 1920s and the first years of Fannie Lou Hamer’s life, growing up on a sharecropping plantation in Mississippi where she was confronted with, beyond the labor abuses of the plantation, constant racial violence, exploitation, and coercion of her community. Specifically, they reflect on the explicit mob violence she saw with the lynching of tenant farmer Joe Pullum, alongside the general poverty and hunger that plagued those around her, before Keisha dives into the breaking point that set up Fannie Lou’s eventual dip into non-violent action; her forced sterilization at the hands of a white doctor supposedly removing a tumor. Following this incredibly traumatizing experience, Hamer eventually heard talk of a Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) meeting at her local church, at which the public abuses of her community, and their unconstitutional nature, are crystallized for her. Next, Professor Blain brings Emma and Sam along Hamer’s life as an activist, organizing for voter registration, from workshops to actually attempting to register in the face of civilian and police brutality, and arrest, just sixty years ago, and they work their way up to her speech at the Credentials Committee in Atlantic City which had even President LBJ on his heels. Keisha then walks through the influence of Hamer’s activism today, looking particularly at the story of Breonna Taylor and Kate Young’s use of social media to force the mainstream media to acknowledge her name. They wrap up the interview by touching on Fannie Lou Hamer’s consciousness around the use of class and poverty to reinforce white supremacy, and looking at how her role as a key civil rights activist is obscured through the whitewashing of history. Sam and Emma also discuss the Right’s commitment to the pro-COVID stance.

And in the Fun Half: Emma and Sam discuss the brand new 2010 Republican talking point on the Democrats’… dismantling of Medicare? They cover the confirmation of the Boogaloo Boys’ classic leftist organizing tactic of actively sowing chaos, shooting up buildings, and committing arson to undermine leftist protests, touching on the slow and steady replacement of election officials in the shadow of the Right’s “Big Lie” as well, before Bro Flamingo fittingly calls in to talk cults. Charlie Kirk talks Senator Schumer’s kinks, Jay from Chicago discusses the de-normalization of Obama’s violent administration, Matt Walsh and Emma share some misinformation on extinction events, and the crew covers some updates from the Kellogg’s strikes. Emma also gets on the record regarding the NFL and Jon Gruden, plus, your calls and IMs!

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