Reviews for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

by Carole Boston Weatherford

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 6 Up-This welcome biography brings to light one of the civil rights movement's most inspiring leaders. The youngest of 20 children, Fannie Lou Hamer grew up in a family of sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta. Forced to leave school after sixth grade, she joined the rest of her family in the fields picking cotton. Still hungry for knowledge, she found strength in the love of her family and through her Christian faith. Weatherford describes the hardships that Hamer endured. For instance, in 1961, while she was having a small tumor removed, a doctor performed a hysterectomy without her consent; at that time, Mississippi law allowed poor women to be sterilized without their knowledge. Hamer was in her 40s when young activists spoke at her church; until that point, she hadn't known that she could vote, and she volunteered to register. Though she faced threats and in 1963 was brutally beaten, she spent the rest of her life rallying others. Told in the first person from Hamer's own perspective, this lyrical text in verse emphasizes the activist's perseverance and courage, as she let her booming voice be heard. Holmes's beautiful, vibrant collage illustrations add detail and nuance, often depicting Hamer wearing yellow, which reflects her Sunflower County roots and her signature song, "This Little Light of Mine." Pair this title with Don Mitchell's The Freedom Summer Murders (Scholastic, 2014), which features a short chapter on Hamer, for a well-rounded look at this tumultuous, turbulent era. VERDICT Hamer's heroic life story should be widely known, and this well-crafted work should find a place in most libraries.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 4-8-This iconographic video expands on Carole Boston Weatherford's exemplary picture book biography of Fannie Lou Hamer by adding narration and simple animation. Janina Edwards's spirited narration conveys the beauty of Weatherford's poetic text and convincingly voices Hamer's perspective. Born in poverty, Hamer became a powerful voice of the civil rights movement. Forced to leave school after the sixth grade, she was in her forties when she first learned of her right to vote. Though registering to vote cost her work and drew death threats, Hamer was undaunted. With her signature song "This Little Light of Mine," she rallied others to register and worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. Throughout her life, Hamer faced hardships, which are described with candor and sensitivity. In 1963, after she and other civil rights workers sought service at a whites-only café, she was jailed and brutally beaten. Hamer refused to give up hope, though. Ekua Holmes's exquisite collage art depicts Hamer in yellow, symbolic of her Mississippi Delta roots and resilience. The presentation lingers over details in the mixed-media collages: sunflower motifs, snippets of text, and maps on clothes. Folksy guitar and simple animations enliven the presentation: hands clap, heads nod, and a pick-up truck rumbles into view. VERDICT This well-crafted video is an excellent resource to supplement American history studies, especially the civil rights era. Hamer's inspiring life story should resonate with a wide audience.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Weatherford chronicles the life of civil rights icon Hamer from her beginnings as the child of Mississippi sharecroppers, through the evolution of her political awareness, to her lasting impact on the civil rights movement. Conversational free-verse text seamlessly incorporates direct quotes; richly colored collage illustrations add emotional heft. This majestic biography places the civil rights movement in personal, local, national, and international contexts. Timeline. Bib. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* In this stunning biography of Fannie Lou Hamer, we walk beside her through tears and smiles on a remarkable journey of resilience and determination that leaves us transformed. The narrative is organized into a sequence of free-verse poems that stand alone as successfully as they link together. They describe what it was like to begin life under Jim Crow oppression and emerge a national hero. We learn that she cared for her aging mother, married, and adopted children; that she was forcibly sterilized, arrested, beaten, and most important, remained an activist her entire life. Caldecott Honor winner Weatherford (Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, 2006) has rendered Hamer's voice so precisely that it is like sitting at her knee as she tells her story. Holmes' multimedia collages perfectly capture the essence of each poem. Like Hamer's life, the illustrations are filled with light, texture, movement, and darkness. They are both abstract and realistic, brilliantly juxtaposing gentle floral motifs with protest placards and Fannie Lou Hamer's face in bold relief. Ultimately, though this is Hamer's story, it includes the collaborative struggles of others with whom she worked and fought for a different America. Bold, unapologetic, and beautiful.--Chaudhri, Amina Copyright 2015 Booklist

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