Disabled Women in History

Not all disabilities are visible and many influential people in the world have both visible and invisible disabilities. I want to highlight Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist who suffered from polio as a little girl. She did not let disability or anything else she encountered in her life stop her from her goal. She wanted black people to have the same freedoms as everyone else.

Fannie Lou Hamer was born in Mississippi and experienced a lot of trials and tribulations in life. She was born to sharecroppers and noticed the discrimination early on. Her parents’ farm animals were poisoned and the family suspected that a local individual who was racist was the cause of it because they were starting to become successful.

Even with her polio, she went to work for other sharecroppers as a young woman and could pick an impressive amount of cotton. After she got married, Fannie Lou Hamer was illegally and unknowingly sterilized by a white doctor. She was there to get a uterine tumor removed but the doctor gave her a hysterectomy instead. She had to adopt children because after what that doctor had done, she could never bear her own. 

Fannie Lou Hamer was a women’s rights activist and a community rights organizer. When it was time for black people to fight for the right to vote in Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer stood up for their right to vote. She even lost her job because of her activism. She sang hymns to uplift the other individuals that she stood with, fighting for basic human rights. Later in her life, Fannie Lou Hamer ran for political office and even marched and protested on behalf of her beliefs. That action got her beaten so badly that she had kidney problems.

Fannie Lou Hamer was also part of the Democratic Convention, which at the time wasn’t very welcoming to blacks, especially not black women. It was sort of a boys club. Ms Hamer became a delegate at the presidential nominating convention in Chicago in 1968. U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young spoke at her funeral in 1977.

Thanks to all she did, Fannie Lou Hamer inspired many women to believe that anything is possible, no matter what you face.

About Morgan Steward: Morgan is an honorary police officer for the Covington Georgia Police Department. He uses the Stretto Power Wheelchair for mobility. Morgan is an active member in his community and enjoys helping others. Click here to learn more about Morgan.