Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department




Faculty Mentor

Tobin Miller-Shearer

Faculty Mentor Department



Hamer, African-American, Prayer, Pastoral Style, Prophetic Style, Civil Rights Movement

Subject Categories

Women's History


Fannie Lou Hamer grew up in an impoverished sharecropping family in Ruleville, Mississippi. In 1962, she became active in the Civil Rights Movement and her dual leadership style would prove central to the African-American struggle for civil rights. The duality of Hamer’s model of leadership centered on acts of public prayer in a prophetic style—through public speaking and discourse—and a pastoral style—through the use of sung prayer. This research examines why Hamer used this model of leadership, how this leadership style was constructed, and relays why this leadership style proved to be so influential to the grassroots organization of the Civil Rights Movement. This research also analyzes the ways Hamer’s acts of public prayer culminated in a prophetic style and pastoral style during her time as a civil rights leader. It explores the results of this combined leadership style and how this inspired strength, solidarity, and a sense of safety within her community of Ruleville and the Civil Rights Movement at large. This research draws from a rich primary source base, gathered largely from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson, Mississippi. Unlike past biographical accounts of Hamer’s life, this work examines her dual leadership style which provides a deeper understanding of African-American women’s leadership during the Civil Rights Movement. Women’s participation historically has been understood in terms of supporting roles instead of leadership positions. Rarely explored, Hamer’s foundational activism embodies both religious heritage and African-American women’s traditions.

Honors College Research Project




© Copyright 2015 Breanna K. Barber