Fannie Lou Hamer’s America Chosen for American Film Showcase

The American Film Showcase (AFS) has chosen the documentary Fannie Lou Hamer’s America as an official selection for its 2024 film showcase.

The AFS brings award-winning contemporary American documentaries to audiences around the world, providing a view of American society and culture as seen by independent filmmakers.

Many FSU students had direct involvement in the making of this film, and Fannie Lou Hamer Professor of Rhetorical Studies Dr. Davis Houck in the School of Communication worked as a lead researcher for the documentary alongside Dr. Maegan Parker Brooks at Willamette University. 

The documentary explores the life of Fannie Lou Hamer through her public speeches, personal interviews, and powerful songs. She was a Mississippi sharecropper who became a human rights activist after becoming “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Mrs. Hamer got involved in the civil rights movement when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came to organize in her small town of Ruleville in 1962. She traveled to raise money and spread awareness through her powerful voice of speaking and singing.

“It’s flattering that the film has garnered so many really high honors and continues to be featured on the PBS website,” Houck said. “I have a sense it’s one of those films that will always generate some level of interest simply because Mrs. Hamer is such a good storyteller, and the film is cinematically brilliant. That’s largely the work of my former student here at FSU, Joy Davenport who both directed and edited the film.”

Besides working as a lead researcher for the film, Houck also co-edited a book of Mrs. Hamer’s speeches titled “To Tell It Like It Is: The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer.” He and Brooks had been collecting her speeches for years and wanted to share the story entirely through her words, as the documentary is, without anybody speaking for her.

Houck is pleased by the award for the film. “It’s an honor to share Mrs. Hamer’s story with a world-wide audience and hopefully the film will catalyze interest in the American civil rights movement,” Houck said.

Every summer, Houck goes with FSU students and alumni to the Mississippi Delta, where Fannie Lou Hamer was from, to teach filmmaking to high school students. Their mission is to continue the work that Mrs. Hamer and others started. You can learn more here.