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FANNIE LOU HAMER (1917-1977).  Hamer was a Civil Rights leader and community organizer from Mississippi.  She began her career in 1962, and it only lasted a few years until poor health forced her to retire.  In 1964, she co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to stop the state’s all-white delegation from attending the Democratic National Convention.  She is best remembered for her speech at the Convention, in which she said “All of this is on account we want to register, to become first-class citizens, and if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives are threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings in America?”


JULIUS LESTER (1939-2018).  Lester was a photographer, author, professor, folk singer and Civil Rights activist.  In the early 1960s, he worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was involved in 1964’s voter registration project in Mississippi.


PS. 14 ½” x 12”. No date. No place [presumably Mississippi].  A photograph signed “We Shall Overcome Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer on the mat in black ink.  It is signed “SNCC Photo Lab Julius Lester in red ink on the back.  The black and white photograph, measuring 11 ½” x 6 ¼”, shows a sharecropper’s farm in the Delta and was taken by Lester.  Of all the major Civil Rights figures of the Sixties, Hamer’s autograph is by far and away the rarest.  By comparison, Dr. King’s signature is uncommon, John Lewis and Coretta Scott King are plentiful, Malcolm X is scarce, etc.  Because of her late fame and poor health, very few people asked Hamer to sign materials, such as this photograph.  The image is in very fine condition.  There is light staining to the mat, two pinholes in the upper corners, and three of the corners at bumped.  The RareBookHub shows only one Hamer signed item ever selling at auction, attesting to its rarity.