Black History Month: Courage and conviction

HARLINGEN — When Lonnie Davis names the African American he most admires during Black History Month — or the rest of the year, for that matter — most people don’t know her.

“Fannie Lou Hamer,” he says with a slight chuckle, knowing the listener will most likely be stumped.

Davis, 72, speaks with great passion and eloquence about his hero and her crusade for the right to vote. This was the 1960s, and such a crusade demanded great courage. Davis talks about the painful price she paid for her bravery — she was horribly beaten and fired from her job — and her determination to continue her mission.

“She stood up,” said Davis, owner of Finance and Insurance Systems at 1213 W. Van Buren Ave.

Hamer helped organize the 1964 Freedom Summer African-American voter registration drive in Mississippi. She also appeared at the 1964 Democratic National Convention with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to challenge Mississippi’s all-white delegation.

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