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'Songs Of Salvation': Remembering Fannie Lou Hamer's Music
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'Songs Of Salvation': Remembering Fannie Lou Hamer's Music

Music Interviews

'Songs Of Salvation': Remembering Fannie Lou Hamer's Music

'Songs Of Salvation': Remembering Fannie Lou Hamer's Music
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From left, Guy Carawan, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Len Chandler perform Civil Rights songs at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. i

From left, Guy Carawan, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Len Chandler perform Civil Rights songs at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Diana Davies/Courtesy of the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections hide caption

toggle caption Diana Davies/Courtesy of the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
From left, Guy Carawan, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Len Chandler perform Civil Rights songs at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

From left, Guy Carawan, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Len Chandler perform Civil Rights songs at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

Diana Davies/Courtesy of the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

There was a voice during the civil rights movement of the 1960s that soothed and inspired those who marched on Southern streets and tried to sit at segregated lunch counters.

Fannie Lou Hamer was a Mississippi sharecropper's daughter who grew up to become an activist and a musician. She registered black voters, stood up to bigotry, and was beaten by the police for her heroism. In 1983, Worth Long of the Smithsonian Institution put together a cassette recording of Hamer's music and recollections. That collection has just been reissued.

"Ms. Hamer sang songs of salvation, songs of redemption, songs of struggle," Long says, "and it calmed the people as they sat there on the bus, being intimidated because they wanted to be citizens of this great country."

Hear more from Long's conversation with NPR' Scott Simon at the audio link.

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