Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-12, students explore BrainPOP resources to learn about the civil rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, who spoke up for black voting rights in the South. Using what they learn about this powerful speaker and about voting rights, students take on the role of Hamer presenting a speech at the Democratic National Convention in August 1964 before the Voting Rights Act, or the 1968 Convention after the Voting Rights Act was signed.  

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about the history of black voting rights in the South.
  2. Watch a movie about Fannie Lou Hamer.
  3. Use Make-a-Map to identify how Hamer spoke in support of voting rights.
  4. Assume the role of Fannie Lou Hamer, writing and presenting a speech rallying support for black voting rights.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard



Lesson Procedure:

  1. Write “voter suppression” on the board and prompt students to share what they think it means.
  2. Tell students that today they will watch a BrainPOP movie about the civil rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer who spoke up for the rights of black voters and fought against the suppression tactics they endured, such as literacy tests and poll taxes.
  3. Display the BrainPOP movie Fannie Lou Hamer on the white board. Invite a volunteer to read the description below the movie player aloud.
  4. Now play the movie once through without pausing. Turn on the closed captions for support.
  5. Next, have students open their Make-a-Map assignments. Instruct them to watch the movie again within the Fannie Lou Hamer Make-a-Map, taking notes about the kind of discrimination Hamer had faced and the actions she took fighing for voting rights for African Americans.
  6. After watching, remind students how Hamer had spoken at the Democratic National Convention in 1964 about the discrimination she’d endured trying to vote, including the threats she’d received, and how she challenged the nation to think about its values.
  7. Now have students take on the role of Fannie Lou Hamer at the 1964 National Democratic Convention where she spoke of the injustices to African American voters, or the 1968 National Democratic Convention, where she was invited to speak as an official delegate three years after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, outlawing barriers to voting. Using their notes from Make-a-Map, have students write a speech in Hamer’s voice.
  8. Next have partners swap their speeches to review and edit. Allow time for this process and for revisions.
  9. Finally, have students present their speeches to a small group or the whole class.

Extension Activities:

Fannie Lou Hamer died in 1977. Challenge students to write an obituary for a national newspaper that includes her many accomplishments.