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Anonymous donation brings Ole Miss a scholarship to honor Mississippi civil rights leader

The gift establishes the Fannie Lou Hamer Scholarship Endowment to help students who are pursuing an education in African American studies.
Credit: Warren K. Leffler

OXFORD, Miss — A generous $100,000 gift from an anonymous donor will provide the University of Mississippi African American studies program with an endowed scholarship that honors Mississippi civil rights leader, Fannie Lou Hamer.

The scholarship will help students who are pursuing an education in African American studies through the UM College of Liberal Arts. 

"We are truly grateful for this gift establishing a scholarship endowment in honor of the late Ms. Hamer. It will open doors for our students here at the University of Mississippi and provide for future generations for years to come, while commemorating past generations that laid the foundation for progress and change," said Lee Cohen, UM liberal arts dean.

Mississippi Delta native Hamer co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and fought for voting equality and women's rights.

"Naming the scholarship after Ms. Hamer, the Mississippi civil rights activist giant, will provide our students with the incentive to work harder and reach for higher goals while honoring Hamer's important legacy," said Derrick Harriell, interim director of African American studies.

Hamer gave a speech at the 1964 Democratic National Convention that resonated with the scholarship's donor and founder.

"She worked so hard for the state of Mississippi and is a folk hero," the donor said. "I hope she continues to be an inspiration to students and that this scholarship can provide the financial support to help them achieve their goals."

The Fannie Lou Hamer Scholarship Endowment is open to support from businesses and individuals. To make a donation towards this scholarship, visit https://give.olemiss.edu.

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