A Prophet Who Believed

The main thing that struck people about Mrs. Hamer was the sense that she was a very strong Christian person. If you went to her home you might find her at the piano with Pap and the girls singing hymns. Her talks at community meetings were always peppered with biblical parables to emphasize her points. And of course her singing, which gave momentum to the whole civil rights movement, was 90 per cent old spirituals. Some of them were revised to take on movement identities, but basically they were just the old traditional spirituals. I feel that she was truly a one-of-a-kind person. I have never met or read about anyone else who so lived the doctrine of her Christianity.

Mrs. Hamer believed the gospel, and I think that was the source of the effectiveness of her movement work. She went forth not thinking that she was going to do anything, but that there was a greater spirit that would use her. She would simply be "an instrument of thy peace" as she got done what had to be done.

She really was the prophet feeding the people the truth. And she really was the fearless person going forth not on her own power but with the power of God. I don't think she saw her role in the movement as that of a historically great leader, but simply as an extension of her religion, from Luke, of tending to the sick and bringing liberty to the captives.

She practiced daily a selfless concern about other people. If you talk to Pap he thinks that's one of the things that contributed to her death, the fact that she never took care of herself physically, that she never got the proper rest and sometimes didn't even take time to eat properly. But there was never any complaint about herself or about her needs. The people's problems were there to be dealt with, and she was committed to helping them.

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