A blend of social commentary, biography, and intellectual history, Until I Am Free challenges us to listen to a working-poor and disabled Black woman activist and intellectual of the civil rights movement as we grapple with contemporary concerns around race, inequality, and social justice. Award-winning historian and New York Times best-selling author Keisha N. Blain situates Fannie Lou Hamer as a key political thinker alongside leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks and demonstrates how her ideas remain salient for a new generation of activists committed to dismantling systems of oppression in the United States and across the globe.
In Until I Am Free, Blain asks us to revisit the activist’s achievements through the lens of the current civil rights movement. She argues that Hamer pioneered an approach to fighting racism, sexism and class discrimination that is relevant today ... Brilliantly constructed to be both forward and backward looking, Blain’s book functions simultaneously as a much needed history lesson and an indispensable guide for modern activists.
As white conservative backlash grows in the United States, Keisha N. Blain’s new biography of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer stands out for its relevance. Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America is a deft, eloquent, and deeply engaging narrative of one of the fiercest and most formidable Black female activists of the 20th century ... Blain’s book differs in that each chapter identifies the work of present-day activists and draws parallels to the battles that Hamer herself joined ... a deft examination of Fannie Lou Hamer, one of our nation’s greatest civil rights heroines, who unfailingly spoke truth to power.
... for all that Until I Am Free does to remind us of Hamer’s importance, perhaps the book’s most notable gambit involves the passages beginning each chapter, when Ms. Blain plots out a contemporary example of how the issues Hamer grappled with are still relevant today -- for instance, the tragic 2015 death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail, and the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement ... Most striking is Ms. Blain’s discussion of intersectionality.