Biopic About Civil Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer Is in the Works

Fannie Lou Hamer at the 1964 Democratic National Convention: Library of Congress/Warren K. Leffler/Wikimedia Commons

Black women were and are a major force in the fight for civil rights, but it is still so rare for the Hollywood biopic machine to greenlight projects about activists like Anne Moody, Maya Angelou, Amelia Boynton, and Rosa Parks. “Remember the Titans” writer Gregory Allen Howard and the folks at 1492 Pictures have apparently been thinking the same thing themselves since, per Variety, they have put a film about civil rights pioneer Fannie Lou Hamer into development.

Born and raised in Mississippi, Hamer came from a family of sharecroppers. She began helping her family in the fields at age six and left school after the sixth grade to work full-time. As an adult, Hamer helped spearhead the 1962 Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She was arrested on trumped up charges in 1963 and put in jail, where she was badly beaten and incurred permanent kidney damage.

Hamer made headlines when she spoke as the representative of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Arguing that the Democrats should recognize her party instead of Mississippi’s segregated Democratic party, Hamer recounted the acts of violence she witnessed while participating in the Civil Rights Movement.

“All of this [violence] is on account of we want to register, to become first-class citizens,” Hamer said. “And if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?”

Hamer died of breast cancer in 1977 at age 59.

1492’s Chris Columbus is producing the as-yet untitled Hamer biopic. He is joined by Howard, Jenny Blum, Michael Barnathan, and Mark Radcliffe. No word on the director or cast yet.

Howard also penned the script for the upcoming Harriet Tubman biopic, which he is producing as well. “Harriet” will see Broadway star and Tony winner Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”) play the abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor. Production on “Harriet” is expected to begin later this year.