October 11, 2017
NYU Washington, DC and The March on Washington Film Festival, a production of The Raben Group, commemorated the 100th birthday of famed Civil Rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer.
A screening of the short film This Little Light of Mine: The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer was followed by a discussion with veteran activist Dorie Ladner, filmmaker Robin Hamilton, and Kim Jeffries Leonard, President and CEO of Envision Consulting and Member of LINKS, Inc. These dynamic women talked about Hamer's life and share stories that will deepen our understanding of how women played an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement.
Robin Hamilton is an Emmy-award winning journalist, television host, moderator and writer.
Robin has worked for network affiliates around the country, including Florida, New York, and Massachusetts. Currently based in Washington, DC, Robin is a correspondent for the local Tribune affiliate’s newsmagazine program NewsPlus, and has hosted DC50-TV’s award-winning Black History month series for the past 4 years.
Robin has also served as a Public Media Fellow, a program under the National Black Programming Consortium, which helps underserved communities adopt social media tools.
She received two Master’s degrees, one from New York University, with a concentration in broadcast journalism, and a second in public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, with a focus on policy and media.
This Little Light of Mine: The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer marks her directorial debut.
Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D. is the President and CEO of Envision Consulting, LLC, where she provides executive level solutions for public, private, and government entities including strategic planning, program design and implementation, and program/systems assessment and evaluation.
Dr. Jeffries Leonard's broad background in public health includes expertise in minority health and behavioral health programs, policies, and related legislation; with subject matter expertise in minority health, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, health disparities, health care reform, tribal issues, reentry and criminal justice issues, international behavioral health, co-occurring mental health and trauma, and women's and adolescent services. Dr. Jeffries Leonard has over 30 years of applied health, minority health, and behavioral medicine research, evaluation, and technical assistance and training experience specializing in health promotion and disease prevention. An effective written and oral communicator, Dr. Jeffries Leonard has served as spokeswoman for federal and state government initiatives and for a number of organizations with interests related to public health issues.
Civil rights activist Dorie Ann Ladner was born on June 28, 1942, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. As an adolescent, she became involved in the NAACP Youth Chapter where Clyde Kennard served as advisor. Ladner got involved in the Civil Rights Movement and wanted to be an activist after hearing about the murder of Emmitt Till. After graduating from Earl Travillion High School as salutatorian, alongside her sister, Joyce Ladner, she went on to enroll at Jackson State University. Dedicated to the fight for civil rights, during their freshmen year at Jackson State, she and her sister attended state NAACP meetings with Medgar Evers and Eileen Beard. That same year, Ladner was expelled from Jackson State for participating in a protest against the jailing of nine students from Tougaloo College.
In 1961, Ladner enrolled at Tougaloo College where she became engaged with the Freedom Riders. During the early 1960s, racial hostilities in the South caused Ladner to drop out of school three times to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1962, she was arrested along with Charles Bracey, a Tougaloo College student, for attempting to integrate the Woolworth’s lunch counter. She joined with SNCC Project Director Robert Moses and others from SNCC and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to register disenfranchised black voters and integrate public accommodations. Ladner’s civil rights work was exemplified when she became one of the founding members of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) in Clarksdale, Mississippi, which included: NAACP, CORE, SNCC, and SCLC.
Then, in 1964, Ladner became a key organizer in the Freedom Summer Project sponsored by the COFO. Throughout her years of working with SNCC, she served on the front line of the Civil Rights Movement in various capacities. She participated in every civil rights march from 1963 to 1968 including the March on Washington in 1963, the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965 and the Poor People’s March in 1968. She was the SNCC project director in Natchez, Mississippi, from 1964 to 1966, and lectured at universities, churches, and other institutions to raise money for the organization. In addition, Ladner was a supporter of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement and worked in the presidential campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern. She went on to serve as a community organizer for the Anti Poverty Program in St. Louis, Missouri, and was an advocate for civil rights in housing and employment. Ladner has also worked for the Martin Luther King Library Documentation Center to help collect the history of people who were participants in the Civil Rights Movement.
In 1973, after her marriage and the birth of her only child, Yodit, Ladner earned her B.A. degree from Tougaloo College. In 1974, she moved to Washington, D.C., and enrolled at the Howard University School of Social Work where she earned her MSW degree in 1975. Ladner has served as a clinical social worker in both the Washington, D.C. General Emergency Room and Psychiatry Department for thirty years. Since her retirement, she has continued her work as a social activist by participating in genealogical research, public speaking, anti-war activities (marches against the war in Iraq), and volunteering in the presidential campaign of Barack Obama.
Director, Producer, Writer:
Bob Kanner, Stefanie Dworkin
In Ruleville, Mississippi in 1961, summers were scorching, cotton was still king, and African Americans were shackled to white intimidation, poverty and cruel injustice. Fannie Lou Hamer, a middle aged sharecropper living on a sprawling plantation, had known no other way.
But that all changed when anger, fate and an invitation to a voting registration meeting redirected the course of her destiny.
During this half hour documentary, we will follow the life of a bold, unlettered woman who challenged the white establishment, chastised the Black political elite and fought for so many like her who had little else to lose and everything to gain.Too often, women in the Civil Rights Movement have been relegated to footnotes in history. This film shines a bright light on a heroine who was a tireless soldier in the battle for equal rights.
27 min., 2015, USA
The March on Washington Film Festival, a production of The Raben Group, increases awareness of the events and heroes of the Civil Rights Era and inspires renewed passion for activism. The festival uses the power of film, music, and the arts to share these important stories.
With our unique, creative approach, our wide networks, and deep roots in advocacy, political, media spaces, among the LGBTQ community and communities of color, we get every client to their finish line. We lead by example, support our clients’ values, and believe in leaving the world in a better place than when we found it. We are The Raben Group.