New Jersey Stage logo
New Jersey Stage Menu


Stockton Professor Donates Fannie Lou Hamer Statue to Atlantic City

originally published: 10/10/2023

Stockton Professor Donates Fannie Lou Hamer Statue to Atlantic City

From left, Stockton President Joe Bertolino; Brian Jackson, chief operating officer of Stockton’s Atlantic City campus; Patricia Reid-Merritt, Stockton Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies and Social Work; Brian Hanlon, sculptor of the statue; and Donnetrice Allison, professor of Africana Studies and Communication Studies. Photo credit: Lizzie Nealis/Stockton University

(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Thanks to the donation of a Stockton University professor, the legacy of civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer has been permanently enshrined in the place where she changed history.

An over-7-foot-tall resin statue of the woman who fought for voting rights for Black Americans was unveiled October 10 during a ceremony at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The hall was the site of the 1964 Democratic National Convention where Hamer made history by giving testimony in opposition to an all-white Mississippi delegation.

“It’s going where it belongs,” said Patricia Reid-Merritt, a Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies and Social Work, before the ceremony. “For all the great things and contributions that Fannie Lou Hamer made to the civil rights struggle, what she is known for is that speech in Atlantic City. It’s a tribute to her legacy and Stockton’s efforts to uplift her legacy.”

Stockton Professor Donates Fannie Lou Hamer Statue to Atlantic City

Patricia Reid-Merritt, Stockton Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies and Social Work, poses with the statue of Fannie Lou Hamer that she donated to Atlantic City. Photo credit: Lizzie Nealis/Stockton University

The statue is a resin mold of a Hamer statue designed by Brian Hanlon, an acclaimed Toms River-based master sculptor. The original statue was erected in Hamer’s hometown of Ruleville, Mississippi, in 2012 by the National Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Statue Committee. Reid-Merritt was the chair of that committee, and Hanlon felt it was fitting to donate the resin statue to her.



 
Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info



“This statue will both educate and inspire young people here,” Hanlon said. “They should learn more about Fannie Lou. I don’t think her story is told enough. The spirit of her as a woman in encouraging other women to get involved with politics and voter rights is very important.”

More than 150 people watched as the statue was unveiled as part of the Atlantic City Experience historical display curated by the Atlantic City Free Public Library. Robert Rynkiewicz, the library’s director, said the statute is an important reminder that “Atlantic City isn’t just about celebrity. It’s about history.”Rynkiewicz joined several city and state politicians at Tuesday’s ceremony to express their gratitude to Reid-Merritt for the donation and celebrate Hamer’s legacy.

“We are honored to have the statue unveiled today in Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall,” said Atlantic City Council Vice President Kaleem Shabazz, who’s also the president of the Atlantic City branch of the NAACP. “This is an historic occasion and marks a long, long journey for those of us who are concerned about the struggle for civil rights. … We have to make sure our younger generation knows who Fannie Lou Hamer was and the importance and significance of what she did.”

Ernest Coursey, the chief of staff for the mayor of Atlantic City, reiterated that the fight for social justice and women’s rights is still ongoing in the United States and must continue.

“Fannie Lou Hamer set the tone years ago,” he said. “She paved the way and made it possible for all of us to stand today and be a part of history.”

Stockton Professor Donates Fannie Lou Hamer Statue to Atlantic City

The statue was installed as part of the Atlantic City Experience historical exhibit, which is curated by the Atlantic City Free Public Library. Photo credit: Lizzie Nealis/Stockton University

State Assemblyman Don Guardian noted Hamer “fought for the same civil liberties that we should be fighting for today because what she fought for still isn’t won. We still need to fight for equality.”



 
Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info



State Assemblywoman Claire Swift praised Stockton University for its role in donating and erecting the statue, along with the City of Atlantic City, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the library. She added that Hamer was a trailblazer for women’s rights and civil rights.

“Let’s make Atlantic City the role model for civil rights, civil liberties and fighting for women to continue to be leaders in this country,” she said.

Stockton University has been proud to be the only university that has consistently honored and recognized Hamer’s place in history, said university President Joe Bertolino. For the last 20 years, Stockton has hosted a Fannie Lou Hamer Human and Civil Rights Symposium for students on its Galloway campus in October, and the university has also named the event space at its Atlantic City campus after Hamer.

“Her legacy aligns with Stockton’s mission of developing engaged and effective citizens who champion inclusivity, diversity and social justice,” Bertolino said. “We will always stand up for the values that Mrs. Hamer stood for. … This memorial furthers all our efforts to recognize Mrs. Hamer’s time in Atlantic City and helping to ensure that her important work is never forgotten by the millions who visit here.”

The ceremony, which also included performances by the Atlantic City High School choir, concluded with remarks by Shirley Weber, California’s Secretary of State, and the keynote speaker at Stockton’s Fannie Lou Hamer Symposium held later in the day.

“What we do here today isn’t just to put a statue here and move on,” she said. “But young people will come and point to that face and point to that person and they will be inspired, and it will be a motivator for them.”

Stockton University is ranked among the top public universities in the nation. Our more than 9,000 students can choose to live and learn on the 1,600-acre wooded main campus in the Pinelands National Reserve in South Jersey and at our coastal residential campus just steps from the beach and Boardwalk in Atlantic City. The university offers more than 160 undergraduate and graduate programs.


FEATURED EVENTS

ART | COMEDY | DANCE | MUSIC | THEATRE | COMMUNITY


WP Percussion Ensemble

Monday, April 22, 2024 @ 7:30pm
William Paterson University - Shea Auditorium
300 Pompton Rd, Wayne, NJ 07470
category: music

Click here for full description


Do Portugal Circus

Monday, April 22, 2024 @ 7:30pm
Woodbridge Center
250 Woodbridge Center Drive, Woodbridge Township, NJ 07095
category: community

Click here for full description


Coreyah

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 @ 12:30pm
William Paterson University - Shea Auditorium
300 Pompton Rd, Wayne, NJ 07470
category: music

Click here for full description


Click here for more events

Listings are available for $10 and included with our banner ad packages.

Click here for more info.








 

LATEST NEWS


Albert Music Hall presents Presley in the Pines

(WARETOWN, NJ) -- Albert Music Hall presents Presley in the Pines on Saturday, May 4, 2024. It is their first ever tribute to the King of Rock-n-Roll with music from 6:30pm to 9:00pm. Bands will be playing music from his early hits of the 50's straight through to his last songs of the 70's.


Outpost in the Burbs presents Choir! Choir! Choir! in an EPIC Fleetwood Mac Sing-Along




New Hope Arts Hosts a Day of Free Events In Honor of International Sculpture Day




NJPAC presents An Evening with Richard Dawkins and Friends


Click here for more event previews







New Jersey Stage

© 2024 by Wine Time Media, LLC
PO Box 811, Belmar, NJ 07719
info@newjerseystage.com

Nobody covers the Arts
throughout the Garden State
like New Jersey Stage!


Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms. If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and on our RSS feed


Art | Comedy | Dance | Film | Music | Theatre | Ad Rates | About Us | Pitch a Story | Links | Radio Shows | Privacy Policy