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This Little Light of Mine scene

Telling Hard Truths

Emily Doyle Moore | | 505-986-5908


Telling Hard Truths

What do you know about the life and legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer? Chances are, not much. That’s about to change. 

Co-hosts Andrea Fellows Fineberg and Anna Garcia dust off the Key Change time machine for a trip back through time and place to the real-life inspiration for This Little Light of Mine (TLLoM), the modern operatic masterpiece commissioned by Santa Fe Opera’s Opera For All Voices initiative. Good thing this ride is roomy because joining them are two women who can claim a direct connection to Mrs. Hamer: Jacqueline “Cookie” Hamer Flakes, Mrs. Hamer’s last surviving daughter, and LaToya Ratlieff, Mrs. Hamer’s grand-niece. 

Mrs. Hamer was born to sharecroppers early in the last century when life for an undereducated Black woman was difficult at best. She endured unimaginable cruelty at the hands of white people who sought to block voting access for folks who looked like her. While those encounters battered her body, her powerful, passionate voice never broke. And yet, many are still unaware of Mrs. Hamer’s contributions to the Civil Rights movement or the rousing, emotional speech she delivered at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

Cookie shares painful, visceral details of Mrs. Hamer’s life and poignant memories of her spirit in celebration of a life committed to community––and as a reminder that the fight for civil rights is still ours today. 

This transformative voyage also features familiar voices from the TLLoM creative team: composer Chandler Carter, librettist Diana Solomon-Glover, music director Jeri Lynne Johnson, stage director Beth Greenberg, and stage manager Laurel McIntyre. Charles Gamble, SFO’s director of school programs, Devin DeVargas, Pojoaque Valley High School choir teacher, and members of the Pojoaque Valley Choir complete this episode’s passenger roster.


Jacqueline “Cookie” Hamer Flakes
LaToya Ratlieff

Chandler Carter – Composer
Diana Solomon-Glover – Librettist
Jeri Lynne Johnson – Conductor & Music Director
Beth Greenberg – Stage Director
Laurel McIntyre – Stage Manager
Charles Gamble – SFO Director of School Programs
Devin DeVargas – Pojaque Valley High School Choir Teacher
Members of the Pojoaque Valley High School Choir 


Fannie Lou Hamer: Stand Up


A Day In The Life Before A World Premiere
Mother of a Movement: This Little Light of Mine
BONUS: Is This America?
Singing A Call to Action: Is This America?
Making a Choice With Conviction: A conversation with Jeri Lynne Johnson
Lighting a Fire: The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer


“I certainly hope that important people think it’s a success and want to take it to a broader audience. But the thing I hope most is that people in the audience have a transformation, their lives are transformed in some way that they wouldn’t be had they not had the experience.” – Diana Solomon-Glover 

“I hope that — it sounds sort of perhaps silly – but the first thing the audience does when they get home is Google Fannie Lou Hamer and start there.” – Beth Greenberg 

“I hope the audience really feels connected to the performers.” – Chandler Carter

“I hope the audience is able to first and foremost open their hearts and receive the story.” – Laurel McIntyre

“Fannie Lou Hamer’s resilience through those moments and her willingness to just come back and keep marching and keep fighting, I really hope the audience can take away just even a little bit, like a little glimmer of her strength and a little bit of her hope and spirit and song and move it forward into their lives.” – Laurel McIntyre