because she'd already answered the calling she knew
what threats were on the other line.
There was no need to add ringing to that already in her ears:
the bangs of 16 errant bullets bouncing against her eardrums;
the drumming of the police officer's blackjack,
held in one black inmate's hand and then another’s,
against her exposed body at the Law's order.
What didn't kill her
didn't kill her,
so she wheeled on toward freedom—with the Freedom Ballot,
Freedom Summer—singing hymns to her comrades the whole bus ride.
By the time they arrived in Atlantic City for the DNC,
the convention hall was buzzing. There was a pulse
that defied death as she did any other day. Fannie Lou
came to represent, to inoculate a Mississippi strain
of illiberalism within the democracy, to take a literal seat
at the proverbial table that she and her people deserved.
This assertion of principle presented an urgent political problem,
as even the president of the United States tried to blackout
the black woman whose hands were no strangers
to the soil of the situation, being on the ground, in the dirt,
from sharecropping in the cotton fields to planting
the seeds of resistance in the hearts of students.
The news cameras cut away to the White House
as she spoke before the credentials committee that afternoon,
but she was so compelling they cut back to her testimony that night.
In questioning America, in undermining its very sense of soul,
Hamer hit the nail on the head for a lot of working men and women
watching in their living rooms, the nail that closed the coffin
on President Johnson’s chances of carrying Mississippi
against Barry Goldwater come November, the beginning
of a fall of one sort, but also the rise of something truer,
and somewhere over the Delta, God thundered.