“Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired”: Black Protest, CompRhet Studies, and the Fannie Lou Hamer Turn

In this presentation-workshop, we will listen to and look closely at a speech by Fannie Lou Hamer called “Until I Am Free, You Are Not Free Either.”  We will extrapolate the historical and rhetorical context of this particular speech from the vantage point of the Civil Rights Movement, Black Language theories, race, class, and gender.  As we extrapolate these histories and radical social activism of Hamer’s moment and life, we will juxtapose the story of how an advanced rhetoric classroom of mostly black female college students responded to the speech and the activist identities and rhetorics that they engaged.  Indeed, these histories are fundamental and critical to the ways in which young black women in college understand the new racisms and sexisms they encounter there.  In unveiling these simultaneous stories— one, being the rhetorics of Fannie Lou Hamer; and two, being the poetics of contemporary black female college students— I hope to show that we have the makings of a critical “turn” in the field of writing studies.  I call this “turn” the Fannie Lou Hamer Turn, a “turn” that surpasses the limited racial and ideological work that we have continually done in the field with our theories of the social turn, linguistic turn, political turn, digital turn, and, now, public turn.