Fannie Lou Hamer’s America

October 18, 2022

Portrait of Mississippi sharecropper-turned-human-rights-activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the Civil Rights Movement’s Greatest leaders.

“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 hook because our lives be threatened daily, because
we want to live as decent human beings, in America?”
With this critical question, delivered at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Fannie Lou Hamer became revered across the nation. Malcolm X referred to her as the “country’s number one freedom fighting woman” and rumor has it Martin Luther King, Jr—though he loved her dearly—feared being upstaged by Hamer’s soul-stirring speeches. Over her lifetime (1917-1977), Fannie Lou Hamer traveled from the Delta of Mississippi to the Atlantic City Boardwalk, from Washington, D.C. to Washington State, from Madison, Wisconsin to Conakry, Guinea—always proclaiming the social gospel that all human beings are created equal and that all people are entitled to basic rights of food, shelter, dignity, and a voice in the government to which they belong. (Learn more about the film and Fannie Lou Hamer here.)

Panelists:

Kadida Kenner

Kadida Kenner is the founding chief executive officer of the New Pennsylvania Project (NPP), a voting rights organization with a primary focus on civically engaging, registering, mobilizing and empowering often-ignored constituents. NPP centers the youth, immigrant communities and communities of color in rural, urban, and suburban Pennsylvania to transform and expand the electorate in the Commonwealth. Kadida is a tireless advocate for social and economic justice issues and is motivated to empower and excite the electorate to enthusiastically vote in every election — all the way down the entire ballot. In addition to working on voting rights, Kadida also serves as co-chair of Why Courts Matter – Pennsylvania, an advocacy campaign seeking to protect the independence of our state and federal courts, and educate the electorate about their importance. The Temple University graduate resides in the Philly suburbs and counts civil rights organizing icon, and West Chester, Pennsylvania native Bayard Rustin as her hero.

Morgan Overton

For the last decade, Morgan’s personal and professional journey has centered racial, gender, and economic justice. She began her trajectory in public service as an Organizing Fellow for Former President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. Since then, Morgan has ventured across government, nonprofit, philanthropic, and community advocacy spaces to bridge the power of everyday lived experiences with transformative change. Currently, Morgan has made history as the first Black woman to serve as Vice-Chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee in June 2022. Additionally, Morgan serves as State Committee Representative for the Pennsylvania Young Democrats Board, Acting Chair of the City of Pittsburgh Gender Equity Commission, and Board Member of Planned Parenthood Western Pennsylvania. Professionally, Morgan serves in the Office of Mayor Ed Gainey, where she works toward achieving a more equitable Pittsburgh for all. From the University of Pittsburgh, Morgan holds a Master of Social Work with a focus in Community Organizing and Social Action, and a Bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art.

Angela Reynolds, PhD

Angela Reynolds, Ph.D, serves as Chief Executive Officer of YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh. YWCA aims to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace and justice in our region. She previously served as an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, as an instructor in statistics and housing policy, specifically affordable housing and fair housing. Prior to joining YWCA, she was Senior Director of United for Families and 2-1-1 at United Way of Southwestern PA. Dr. Reynolds is the 2020 ATHENA award recipient, a 2021 Pittsburgh Business Times Woman of Influence, Pittsburgh Smart 50 Class of 2020, member of the Board of Directors for Sustainable Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, Adagio Health Advisory Board, and Highmark Western Region Advisory Board. Dr. Reynolds, a mother of four and caretaker for her mother, is an Associate Pastor of her church.


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