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Charles Sherrod (born 1937)[1] is a preacher and activist. He was a key member and organizer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the Civil Rights Movement. He became the first SNCC field secretary and SNCC director of southwest Georgia.[2] His leadership there led to the Albany Movement. He also participated in the Selma Voting Rights Movement and in many other arenas of the 1960s movement era.

Charles Sherrod
Rev Charles Sherrod in front of the civil rights park in Albany Georgia.
Alma materUnion Theological Seminary
OccupationPreacher, activist
Spouse(s)Shirley Sherrod

A supporter of racial integration, he recruited white as well as black members to assist with voter registration efforts. In 1966, he left the SNCC after its recently elected chairman Stokely Carmichael expelled white members. He moved north, to New York City, where he received his master's degree in sacred theology from the Union Theological Seminary. He then returned home to direct the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education. In 1969, Sherrod, his wife Shirley, and some other members of the Albany Movement helped pioneer the land trust movement in the U.S.,[3][4] co-founding New Communities, a collective farm in Southwest Georgia modeled on kibbutzim in Israel. He served as an elected member of the Albany City Council from 1976 to 1990.[2]

A former chaplain at the Georgia State Prison in Homerville, Reverend Sherrod teaches at Albany State University.[5] He is married to former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod.


Student Nonviolent Coordinating CommitteeEdit

Sherrod joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1961, when it was recruiting new students to join in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Before becoming a member of SNCC, Sherrod attended Virginia Union College in Petersburg, Virginia. In 1961 he was among one of four students, along with Diane Nash, Charles Jones and Ruby Doris Smith, to drop out of college to become a full-time civil rights activist and member of SNCC. When the four students arrived in Rock Hill, they almost immediately engaged in sit-ins to fight back against segregation. After only one day in Rock Hill all four of the college students were arrested because of a sit-in they participated in, at a local diner. Like many activists, the students at the time chose jail with bail in an attempt to overcrowd the jails, and they were sentenced to 30 days hard labor. When Sherrod was released from jail he became a contributing member of SNCC and was often referred to as one of its founding fathers.[6] By working his way up in the organization, he was named the director and field secretary. Rather than returning to school in the fall he moved to become a full-time organizer to stimulate new black initiatives in intensively segregated and Ku Klux Klan-dominated local communities in Albany, Georgia (later joined by Cordell Reagon in October 1961). Sherrod helped organize the Albany Movement by planning sit-ins and jail-ins. Sherrod's main goal was fighting for voter's registrations rights, though he also campaigned for an end to segregated terminals at bus stations and the desegregation of interstate travel.[7]

Before Sherrod initiated the Albany Movement, his earlier battles in the civil rights movement took place in the streets of Albany where he fought for voter's registration rights alongside Cordell Reagon. Sherrod was 22 at the time and Cordell Reagon eighteen, both being prominent activists despite their young age.[8] During their time together as SNCC's leaders they held many learning sessions on how to engage in nonviolent strategies for Albany students in anticipation of major conflict with the police.[9]

During Sherrod's time working with SNCC he received many death threats from white southerners. Some of these threats were made in person with a gun held to his head,[citation needed] while other threats came over the phone. These kinds of actions happened on a daily basis, and during SNCC's 50th anniversary Sherrod stated "So we had to continually day by every day deal with fear".[5]

Sherrod left SNCC at the end of 1966 because of the head of SNCC, Stokely Carmichael, planned to exclude whites from the organization. Sherrod did not agree with this policy, and decided to put his efforts towards the Southwest Georgia Project (SWGAP).[10]


After Leaving SNCC Sherrod and his wife Shirley Sherrod started taking part in the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education. The work done in Albany helped ease the movement into 15 different counties throughout Southwest Georgia. Charles then started recruiting many students from his former college where he received his master's degree. The Union Theological Seminary.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "This Far by Faith," PBS Series
  2. ^ a b Entry on "Charles Sherrod" in The Black Past
  3. ^ Bachman, Megan (July 29, 2010). "Antioch alumna draws spotlight". Yellow Springs News.
  4. ^ Witt, Susan; Swann, Robert (1996). "Land: Challenge and Opportunity". In Vitak, William; Jackson, Wes (eds.). Rooted in the land: essays on community and place. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 246. ISBN 0-300-06961-8. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c "SNCC 50th anniversary planning committee"[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Jr., Cobb, Charles E., (2008). On the road to freedom : a guided tour of the civil rights trail (1st ed.). Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. pp. 141, 142, 179, 180–185, 188, 189. ISBN 9781565124394. OCLC 132581825.
  7. ^ The Eyes on the prize : civil rights reader : documents, speeches, and firsthand accounts from the Black freedom struggle, 1954-1990. Carson, Clayborne, 1944-. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Penguin Books. 1991. pp. 133, 134. ISBN 0140154035. OCLC 23213446.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ Voices of freedom : an oral history of the civil rights movement from the 1950s through the 1980s. Hampton, Henry, 1940-1998., Fayer, Steve, 1935-, Flynn, Sarah, 1950-. New York: Bantam Books. 1990. pp. 98, 99, 114. ISBN 9780553352320. OCLC 20628084.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ "This Far by Faith . Charles Sherrod | PBS". Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  10. ^ Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock (2015-02-06), Shirley Sherrod: Splitting with SNCC and founding SWGAP, retrieved 2018-03-06

External linksEdit