Louis H. Draper (American, 1935–2002)
gelatin silver print
14 x 10 7/8 in. (35.56 x 27.62 cm)
Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund, 2020.7
“When you look at all that white-owned, Black farmed land in Mississippi, [the Freedom Farm Cooperative is] a mere drop in the bucket but proves it can be done. This [co-op] represents a step towards economic independence.” – Fannie Lou Hamer, 1971
Fannie Lou Hamer was a Civil Rights leader working towards political and social equality in Mississippi. Born to sharecroppers, Hamer began working in the field at age six, learning early on about the disparity between land ownership and labor. In the 1960s, she became frustrated with the setbacks found in political advancement and turned towards economic equality. She established the Freedom Farm Cooperative (FFC) in 1968. As a grassroots organization, the FFC brought together poor Black families to work the nearly 700 acres of land they collectively owned, making them economically independent from the sharecropping industry that was still present in 1960s Mississippi. In Draper’s photograph taken at the FCC, his photograph makes it clear who is responsible for working the land around Hamer.