Bombing of Williams Chapel Missionary Church
This church was a significant place where many mass meetings were held in Ruleville, Mississippi. Since organizing gatherings were held there, it became a target for police and white supremacists to attack voting rights activists, including Mrs. Hamer.
Mrs. Hamer was a key figure during strategy meetings, when organizers were laying out their plans to dismantle the Jim Crow power structure, and more importantly, explaining to residents why it was important to vote.
In Kay Mills’ book This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, Mills references Mrs. Hamer’s oral history (housed at Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University). In that oral history, Hamer is quoted as saying to James Forman, the head of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (the voting rights organization that came to Mississippi), “He told us…we could vote out people and they talked about, you know, hateful policeman, and how they had been elected and if we had a chance to vote, you know, that we wouldn’t allow these people to be in office because we could vote them out.”
It is that observation that became a catalyst for many Mississippians, including Mrs. Hamer, who were willing to sacrifice their life for that right.
At the same time, those in power were angered that their position of privilege was being threatened. That anger prompted violence against places that encouraged such “radical” thinking. One of those places was the Williams Chapel Missionary Church. This month 56 years ago, the church was bombed as a means of retaliating against those “agitators” that were fighting for a very basic right as a citizen.
Eerily, today, peaceful protestors, fighting for the same right of humanity, are facing a power structure that wants to shut civil discord down. As we have seen with Mrs. Hamer, we will not be silent.