Fannie Lou Hamer Curriculum
Grades K-12
State of New Jersey
There are eleven columns at The Civil Rights Garden in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  
Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer shares column ten with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and
Rabbi Joachim Prinz.

It reads "All this on account we want to register, to become first-class citizens,
and if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America.  Is this
America, the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have to sleep
with our telephones off the hooks because we want to live as decent human
beings, in America?"
Atlantic City Deputy Mayor Earnest Coursey (left) NJ Secretary of
State Regena Thomas (center) and Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo T.
Langford (right) lead marchers down the Boardwalk in October
2003 as part of a tribute to the Life of Fannie Lou Hamer
Giles R. Wright of the New Jersey Historical Commission-New Jersey
Department of State worked on this curriculum for over a year under the
leadership of former Secretary of State Regena Thomas.  It consists of a
VHS/DVD Documentary and Teacher's Guide.  It has been distributed to
every public Elementary, Middle and High School in the state of New Jersey.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour Signs Bill Allowing Civil
Rights Curriculum in Schools

Mississippi has positioned itself to become a pioneer in offering civil rights
history lessons from kindergarten through high school.

Gov. Haley Barbour announced March 21, 2006 that he had signed a bill
that authorizes the state's public school districts to make civil rights and
human rights a part of the curriculum in all grades.

Under the bill, which becomes law July 1, a commission would be
appointed to help districts develop the curriculum and find resources to
offset the costs. Implementation would be left to individual school districts.

Susan Glisson spearheaded the bill. As executive director of the Winter
Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi, Glisson
said it was modeled after legislation passed in several states, including
Mississippi, that mandated that the Holocaust be taught in public schools.

She further stated, according to the associated press, that the institute
had been unable to identify any other state that has set up a similar
program devoted solely to civil rights history.  The idea for the bill came
from Glisson's conversations with history teachers during civil rights
workshops sponsored by the institute.

Currently, textbooks in the state refer to the civil rights movement but
schools usually don't devote an entire course to the subject.

"The reality is in the way that the civil rights movement normally gets
taught, we erroneously communicate to the students that one person
made it all happen," Glisson said. "So much attention gets placed on
Martin Luther King, for instance, that we do not see the contributions
made by grass-roots people, some of whose names we may never know."

"The message that gets communicated is that we have to have a savior to
make our communities better when the reality of civil rights is that we have
the power to do it ourselves."

Governor Barbour said he thinks the broader the curricula and history
are, the better it is for the students.  Additionally, Barbour stated the more
the students can learn the better citizens they can become.

According to the Associated Press, House Education Chairman Cecil
Brown, D-Jackson, said it is important that young people fully grasp the
sacrifices people made for equality.

Brown - who witnessed the rioting that occurred when the University of
Mississippi was integrated in 1962 - said young people in the state
weren't around "to see what it was like to see Klansmen marching, to have
Jewish people and black people bombed.  It was a scary time.  Certainly
for African-Americans, they've lived in two worlds."

But there are other aspects of civil rights - beyond black-and-white issues
- that will be taught in at least one of the school districts.

Pat Cooper, education superintendent for McComb Public Schools, said
his district's curriculum also will include struggles in other states, such as
"the sugarcane cutters in Louisiana and the vegetable pickers in

Cooper's district already is working with the Washington-based
consultants, Teaching for Change, to develop a curriculum that could be
implemented next school year.

Cooper said teaching civil rights is just the next step in what has been a
nine-year effort to reunite his community. He said when he became
superintendent in 1997, most white students were in parochial or private

"There was a lot of misinformation and stereotypical thoughts. We began
several years ago trying to figure out a way to communicate. We're trying
to create a whole new generation of citizens who think very differently
about this issue," Cooper said.

McComb's 3,200-student district is 77 percent black and 23 percent white.
Cooper said nine years ago, it was about 15 percent white.

The bill is Senate Bill 2718.
Disclaimer:  THE ROAR FOUNDATION, INC. provides information on this
web site for educational/informational and networking purposes only!  Use
of any copyrighted materials must be approved by its owner.  ROAR claims
no responsibility for misuse of information obtained on this web site.

(c) copyrighted THE ROAR FOUNDATION, INC.                                                   April 2006
Last Modified                                                                                                      October 2010
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Chico Seku Neblett (Original
Freedom Singer) warms up his
African drums for New Jersey's
Inaugural Hamer program in 2003
Former New Jersey Historical
Commission employee Giles R. Wright
addressed the crowd at Hamer 30th
Anniversary Commemoration Celebration
March 3, 2007 @ Hamer Memorial Garden.
Far right Lenora and Jackie Hame, two of
Mrs. Hamer's daughters.
Former New Jersey Secretary of State and Patricia M. Thompson (founder of ROAR)
Atlantic City, New Jersey                                                                                October 2003
National Black United
(NBUF) is our
fiscal sponsor for the
Hamer statue project.