We have got to stop the nervous Nellies and the Toms from going to the Man's place. I don't believe in killing, but a good whipping behind the bushes wouldn't hurt them.... These bourgeoisie Negroes aren't helping. It's the ghetto Negroes who are leading the way.
Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977), African American civil rights activist. As quoted in This Little Light of Mine, ch. 8, by Thelma Barnes—to whom Hamer said this in a November 17, 1989 interview—to Hay Mills (1993).
Said in a 1965 speech delivered to support twelve African American farm workers in the Delta, who were attempting to organize the Mississippi Freedom Labor Union. By "Nellies" and "Toms," she meant accommodationist African Americans; the "Man" referred generically to white men with power. The union did not succeed.