Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement Book Poster Image
Frank, poetic picture book bio has dazzling art.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Voice of Freedom tells the story of Fannie Lou Hamer and her rise from child sharecropper to civil rights icon. It shares important information about what it meant to be a Black American in the Jim Crow-era South, and how activits working for civil rights and voiting rights were arrested, beaten, and killed.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about perseverance, pride, activism, equality, and more.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Frannie Lou is strong in the face of horrible prejudice, oppression, and violence. She perseveres and becomes a civl right leader. 


Voice of Freedom describes much of the violence of the civil rights era of the 1960s. Hamer and associates are beaten severely when they are unjustifiably arrested.  She suffered lifetime injuries from her prison beating. Men fire bullets into homes to dissuade people from registering to vote, and SNCC voter registration volunteers are killed. Hamer threatens to slit a man's throat for turning his back on the movement. A woman is described as having been tricked into submitting to an operation that made her sterile. This operation was part of a government program.


Language is harsh in parts. In a scene when Fannie Lou is arrested and prison, and those beating her call her a "nigger bitch."  

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, by Carole Boston Weatherford, is a lyrical look at the life of this iconic leader, who began life in a poor family of Mississippi sharecroppers, endured racial injustice throughout her life, and became a voting rights activist in the 1960s. Mixed-media collages won illustrator Ekua Holmes a 2016 Caldecott Honor and the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award. Through poems written in the first-person voice, Hamer serves as the filter through which readers see horrific acts of racism, experience unfair work practices, and observe her incredible strength. Parents should be prepared to discuss inequality and the rampant acts of violence and racist killings intended to destroy the civil rights movement, including multiple assassinations. Hamer's story also includes the fact that she was sterilized against her will in 1961 as a part of a government program that targeted poor and primarily minority women. Racist language is harsh in places, such as 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byabbysmith13 September 13, 2017

Mature content and LANGUAGE

I agree with the CSM review, but there is very harsh language that needs to be mentioned. When Fannie Lou is in prison, those beating her call her a "nig... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 2, 2020

What's the story?

Fannie Lou Hamer is sick and tired of being sick and tired. Black people are not being treated fairly, and she sees firsthand the effects that racism has on her family and the people around her. She experiences an awakening when she's in her 40s and is asked to help motivate African Americans to become voters. It's the first time she realizes Blacks even have the right to vote. She goes on to become the spirit and the voice of the civil rights movement and helps change the country for the better.

Is it any good?

Through poetry, the lyrics to traditional gospel spirituals, and mixed-media quilt-like collages, Hamer's life and experiences jump off the page in this stunning picture-book biography. Readers see her move back and forth from being a regular child to being a child living under the oppressive restrictions of the Jim Crow South. Author Carole Boston Weatherford deftly conveys a humanness that's often missing from profiles about civil rights giants. Hamer's strength and vulnerability are unflinchingly displayed, which takes the book to another, more sophisticated level. 

Hamer's plainspoken approach to her experiences are sure to appeal to both parents and kids alike as they tackle the difficult issues of civil rights, social resistance, and the inner workings of social justice organizations.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of fair work practices. Sharecropping was called legalized slavery because of the unfair work and pay practices sharecroppers were forced to endure. Have you heard any stories in the media about unfair wages or employment practices?

  • Do women in the civil rights movement receive enough attention and focus? 

  • Fannie Lou Hamer railed against the two-party system (Republicans and Democrats) that shut out viable African American candidates. Do you see the same issues with the political system today? How did candidates in Hamer's time use the media to get their messages out, and how do candidates use the media today?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love African American stories

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