By the time this article is published, most of the results of the 2018 Mid-Term Elections will be history. The questions remain if my slate of candidates did or did not win, “What can I do to make a difference in my community?”
One of my favorite biographies is “This Little Light of Mine”, The Story of Fannie Lou Hamer. If you read her story you may not think twice about your ability to change the landscape of democratic processes in this country. Born 101 years ago to sharecroppers in Mississippi, Ms. Hamer the 20th child born to her parents was brutally beaten upon returning home to Mississippi from a voters registration rally in Charleston SC. That beating left her with a permanent limp and a blood clot in her eye. She also endured a “Mississippi appendectomy” which was forced hysterectomies the state performed on poor “Negro” women to prevent them without their consent to prevent them from having “poor children”. With a passion to make a difference for her people, Ms. Hamer founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the Freedom Farm Collective and the National Women’s Political Caucus. When Ms. Hamer discovered in 1962 from the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that Negroes could vote she knew she could make a difference for her people regardless the price. She failed the literacy test required to vote two times, endured beatings, threats, the death of a daughter who would not be admitted to a hospital because of her mom’s activism and more...!
Why am I providing a brief history lesson Ms. Hamer? Because, the battle does not stop with the ballot. As a matter of fact, it is just beginning. Let’s look at history again. Ms. Hamer’s Freedom Farm Collective secured FHA housing for struggling families, provided financial literacy training and scholarships. She partnered with the National Council of Negro Women to create a “pig bank” to provide meat to families that could not afford to incorporate meat in their diets. The National Women’s Political Caucus was founded to create a unified voice for women voters and provide a platform for women candidates.
This was just a few things Ms. Hamer accomplished in her 59 years of living! Look at the list, if you think about her work, a number of initiatives are still present in our village but the village does not control these programs. Did we give the programs away or were they taken? The answer is unclear but the outcome is the same... the more things have changed, the more they stay the same? We must reclaim our communities by using our resources and not look to anyone to do it for us. For instance, is it a food dessert? We already know what HEB will not do, so let’s bring the good food to our neighborhood ourselves. Let’s start our own Farmer’s Market with our own resources on our own land. Is there a lack of quality retail outlets? Let’s put retail in our houses if we need to and take advantage of the “cottage” laws. The list goes on and I know you get the picture.
THIS EDITION’S CHALLENGE: Share on our social media’s page what you will do to empower your village. What need will you help to fill?
I leave you with one of Ms. Hamer’s infamous quotes, “If the white man gives you anything - just remember when he gets ready he will take it right back. We have to take for ourselves.”