Friday, October 2, 2009

The Process on The Fannie Lou Hamer PSA Project

In May 2009 I had an idea that there needs to be public service announcements speaking out on verbal violence against women. My original intent was to produce a few examples and hope that others would see how simple it was and carry forth.

I hit upon the idea of using historically powerful women replying to a negative statement about women. I decided on using Fannie Lou Hamer as an example of a woman you will not diminish with idiotic words and thoughts.

A Bit of History and The Process
It was fairly simple. I first had to find an insulting quote about women. Sadly that was incredibly easy to do. I had heard about Fannie Lou Hamer and knew she was a community powerhouse in the Civil Rights movement.

I began to research her history. Mrs. Hamer was catching hell not only from segregationists but she also experienced sexism and class discrimination from the men in the Civil Rights movement.

The men didn't mind that she's expended energy in motivating people to participate or telling her story. But Mrs. Hamer was a woman and perhaps a greater sin in their eyes, not "educated." The leaders of the movement wanted to present themselves as educated, profession and men worthy of inclusion.

This did not include Mrs. Hamer. One of those so called great men actually told her to go home; she had done her bit but she was no longer necessary or wanted as a public face of the civil rights movement.

I found audio of her testimony before Congress on her experience of telling her sharecropper boss of her decision to register to vote. I then found the photos and animated them in my video editing program to export out as a video.

There are a number of slide software programs like Microsoft Photo Story. I believe iMovie has the same ability. I really waned to keep it simple so that others could replicate the process.

The video was uploaded to and

Problems and Concerns

Well yes, and two of them should be obvious. I did not have permission to use the audio or the photographs that appeared. Both Out On the Stoop and Create Video Notebook are non-commercial blogs. Non-commercial doesn't give anyone free license to do whatever they want. Fair use is not free game.

However the audio recording was produced during Mrs. Hamer's testimony before Congress.

I believe I can use the recording because if a work was produced by the U.S. Government it is created for the benefit of the citizens. As such, the work is in the public domain.

The photos are more troublesome. I don't know who took the photos. I do believe in attribution but there were so many copies plunks on websites that I don't know the originator of the image.

It is risky and it is not something to be done lightly. In the end, I decided to create the PSA with the understanding that this might be a problem down the road.

More Thoughts 

I do believe that this is time to take our stories and transfer some of them to the video format. I strongly believe in helping a future archeologist out. I don't think we should leave interpretation of what a woman is or is not to found copies of Girls Gone Wild or episodes of Gossip Girl.

There is a range of voices and ideas. This is a great time and opportunity to communicate who we are, what we believe and what we know. Video can also be used to educate.
Using the model of an traditional PSA  message I think we have the opportunity to do a lot of good.

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