October 6th was Fannie Lou Hamer's birthday. Fannie Lou was a black worker who emerged from the fields of Mississippi during the freedom struggles of the 1960s to head the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Fannie Lou Hamer represented the goals, hopes and demands of the grassroots (people of Mississippi and the black rural south). At the 1964 Democratic Party Convention her voice and ours were sacrificed by white (and some black) Democratic Party leaders to preserve an alliance with the Dixiecrats. The views, voices and interests of the working class and poor black majority were disrespected in this shameful event.
That painful and damaging history is vividly echoing in our ears. It is happening again. It must stop.
In the wake of one of the worst disasters, in the making long before Katrina's wind and water hit the Gulf Coast, poor and working class black people are once again being swept aside. We see and hear organizations, even in the black community, claiming to speak for us, claiming to represent us. They do not. Only we can represent ourselves.
This disrespect and disregard is also taking place in governmental bodies and organizations who are meeting, planning and implementing programs in our absence, without our input and oversight.
Out of this horror we have the chance to build a movement for social justice in this country. The genuine interest from concerned people from every walk of life and every corner of the nation shows us we are not alone.
If we are to meet this moment, build the movement we need, this situation cannot continue. The gains of the black freedom movement must be preserved. All that we have learned, (the ways we have grown since must be celebrated and built upon). We demand that the voices of those left behind after Katrina hit, the overwhelming majority of whom are the black working class and poor be at the center of every discussion about what lies ahead for Louisiana and other areas of the Gulf Coast .
Copyright © 2005
Last Modified: October 12, 2005.