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Remember Fannie Lou Hamer (access required)

It is widely accepted that the new redistricting plan approved last week by the Maryland General Assembly will be challenged in court. Reportedly, one or more interest groups have already asked the Justice Department to step in and review the plan. The controversy about the new plan stems from the belief the map was gerrymandered to help Democrats gain an additional seat in Congress. This upsets Republicans, of course. But it also upsets some minority groups and some public officials who believe the new map unfairly divides minority voters. A name frequently mentioned in various news reports on the issue has been civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer. (Her name has also been adopted by a political action committee challenging the new map.) Hamer was born a little over 94 years ago, on Oct. 6, 1917, the youngest of 20 children in Montgomery County, Miss. In 1962, she became a volunteer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, working to help blacks in the South meet qualifications designed to keep them from voting. She also worked as a community activist organizing protests against various discriminatory policies. For her efforts, Hamer suffered many offenses, including at one point being jailed and beaten so badly that she was permanently disabled.