HATTIESBURG, Miss – A few years after the University of Southern Mississippi developed the Mississippi Network for Cancer Control and Prevention, the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation was born.
Wednesday, July 1 marked a major milestone for the cancer foundation and the group’s mission.
Fannie Lou Hamer is famous for saying “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Hamer is a renowned civil rights activist that died of untreated breast cancer in 1977.
Jennifer Downey with the Mississippi Network for Cancer Control and Prevention said, “Cancer rates in the Mississippi delta are higher than the rest of the state. We know that female blacks with breast cancer die at a higher rate than female whites who have breast cancer.”
The goal of the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation is to make African-American women in the Mississippi Delta aware of the risks associated with cancer.
Most recently that goal became a little easier with the approval of a specialty license plate that’s now available for purchase. Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1171 in April, approving the plate, “It’s about trying to improve the lives of people who are affected by cancer and also to create a public agenda to focus on prevention, detection, treatment and cure of cancer,” said Downey.
Founder of the FLHCF, Freddie White-Johnson said, “Funds from this lifesaving license plate will help us with the construction of the foundation’s headquarters and provide financial support to cancer patients throughout our great state – Mississippi.” The foundation headquarters will be in Hamer’s hometown of Ruleville, Ms.
Johnson said, “We are very thankful to the cancer volunteers of the Mississippi Network for Cancer Control & Prevention, University of Southern Mississippi, the consumers, and everyone who helped make this dream become a lifesaving reality. We are especially thankful to all members of the Mississippi House and Senate who supported this much-needed legislation, and last but not least a huge “thank you” to Governor Phil Bryant for signing our bill into law.”
Downey said the foundation is volunteer run, strongly supported by the public and dedicated to better health. “What it really symbolizes is what can happened when a group of people come together to work hard and to save lives and to make a difference in the world.” Johnson agreed, “This initiative will give back to the community both in terms of improved health status and as an economic catalyst.”
Downey said if Hamer were here today, she’d be proud of the foundation, “She sacrificed her own life to do the great work that she did with civil rights, we feel like we’re carrying out her work.”