Fannie Lou Hamer and Transforming Anger: From Danger and Demand to Liberation and Love

Shriver, Timothy, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Flores, Nichole, University of Virginia

This thesis explores the nature of anger, in its righteousness and its sinfulness, in its utility and its risk, in its tendency toward healing justice and toward retributive destruction. This thesis does so by exploring the life and work of one particular woman, lesser-known civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, and by drawing on two traditions within Christianity, Catholic moral ethics and the black church. Hamer and these traditions lead to an understanding of the dangers and demands of anger in its ethical ambiguity, as well as reveal the practices that enable transforming anger, an anger that transforms practitioners and that is transformed by practitioners. In this transforming anger we find the liberative and loving potential of anger rather than its retributive divisiveness. But this transforming anger is not easily won and certainly not won alone. It is neither achieved without community nor without God. Rather, transforming anger sits at the nexus of an individual transformed in radical freedom, a community rooted in practical resources for responding to suffering, and the grace of God.

MA (Master of Arts)
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