KT1WF9 Fannie Lou Hamer 1964-08-22

Free admission (all visitors, all hours)


The consequences of the 2020 presidential election will be historic. Amid a global pandemic, our polarized nation will strive to mobilize millions of voters in states from coast to coast and territories beyond our borders. Despite withstanding discrimination, harassment, and brutality, Fannie Lou Hamer fought earnestly to ensure that African Americans had the right to vote. Her efforts, and those of other voting rights activists, culminated in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This fall the Santa Fe Opera will join with myriads of organizations in supporting the “Get Out the Vote” campaign through the national screening of scenes from This Little Light of Mine, a one-act opera that shares key moments from the life of Fannie Lou Hamer.

This Little Light of Mine
, a one-act opera, dramatizes the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a former sharecropper who rose to national prominence at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. As a Black woman of humble origins, she spoke truth to power as perhaps no other civil rights leader. In the opera, adopted daughter Dorothy Jean Hamer tells how Fannie Lou and her husband ‘Pap’ took in foster children as their own; how the injustices of the Jim Crow South emboldened her to demand the right to vote for African-Americans; and how she shook the political world during “Freedom Summer” by helping found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Describing to the Convention Credentials Committee her harrowing story of harassment, arrest and beating by the police, Fannie Lou Hamer pointedly asked: “Is this America?” Her efforts achieved limited success, but her voice resonated throughout the country and helped lead to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Determined to keep fighting injustice, the restless Fannie Lou Hamer risked her own health and well-being, even as her family cautioned her to slow down. Dorothy Jean, the story’s narrator, unexpectedly becomes an agent of tragedy when, in the final scene, she is refused admission to a white hosp tal and dies in childbirth. The drama ends as it began, with the song of hope, “This Little Light of Mine,” still haunted by the reality of an unjust world.