A movie on the life of Civil Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer will soon make its way to the silver screen to tell the story of the often overlooked and unheralded “spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.” This biopic tells the dynamic story of a woman who against all odds overcame the poverty of the Jim Crow South in Mississippi, near fatal beatings by law enforcement, repeated threats on her life, and the trauma of forced sterilization to become a leader in politics, civil rights, women’s rights, and community organizing and activism.
The film is being produced by Larry Meli, CEO of Dream Management, Jon Levin of Beverly Hills-based ROAR (Formerly of CAA) and Author Jay Speights of Rosemary Isle, who have optioned the rights to Hamer’s story from her estate and the definitive biography on her by Chana K. Lee, For Freedom’s Sake.
“With voting rights under attack, Hamer’s story is both timely and crucial as we continue this national debate. As we commemorate what would have been her centennial year, it is only fitting that we reintroduce her amazing story into the American lexicon to serve as a call to action for a new generation of activists,” said team member Jay Speights.
The team assembled to tell Hamer’s story is seasoned in the art of crafting powerful biopics and compelling feature films. Meli produced 2013’s Chavez, which chronicled the life of the Labor Leader Cesar Chavez—Speights worked closely with Meli on the production. Levin is known for representing a diverse array of projects and clients in film and television, most recently Marshall, a biopic of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (directed by Reggie Hudlin and starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad and Sterling K. Brown).
In celebration of her 100th birthday on Friday, October 6th, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, organized by Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, led a 30-minute salute to Hamer on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. “For many of us, it was her spirit and her energy that has served as a beacon,” Thompson said. Also, several activists led marches and walks across the country in her honor.
With the fierce strength and determination, she inherited from her mother and grandmother (born a slave), Hamer rose to national prominence to challenge President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Democratic Party establishment. She died in 1977 from a life of hard work, complications from beatings and selfless activism. Mrs. Hamer’s grave was unmarked for close to 30 years. She in now buried in the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden in Ruleville, Mississippi along with her husband Perry “Pap” Hamer. Her headstone is engraved with her famous quote from the 1964 Democratic Convention, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
“Fannie Lou Hamer’s story is one of struggles and triumphs and is a true testament to the indomitable spirit of a true American hero. This story will surely inspire and motivate future generations of activists to continue the fight for justice and equality,” said team member Larry Meli.