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*The birth of Charles Sherrod is celebrated on this date in 1937. He is a Black activist, educator, and minister.
Charles Sherrod was born in Surry, Virginia, and was raised by his Baptist grandmother. When he was a young boy, he sang in a choir and attended Sunday school at church. When he was older, he became a preacher at Mount Olivet Baptist Church, where he often preached to children. Sherrod first participated in the American Civil Rights Movement after the Supreme Court desegregated schools in the Brown v. Board of Education case.
In 1954, Sherrod first participated in sit-ins at white churches to desegregate them. In 1966, he married former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod who assisted with the Albany Movement and with SWGAP. Together they had two children. He was a key member and organizer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), where he became the first southwest Georgia SNCC field secretary and director. His leadership there led to the Albany Movement. He also participated in the Selma Voting Rights Movement and many other arenas of the 1960s movement era. A supporter of racial integration, he recruited white and 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 with his wife. In 1969, Sherrod, his wife, and some other members of the Albany Movement helped pioneer the land trust movement in the U.S., co-founding New Communities, a collective farm in Southwest Georgia modeled on kibbutzim in Israel. The work in Albany helped ease the movement into 15 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, to assist in the project. The mission of SWGAP is to educate, engage and empower communities in southwest Georgia.
He also formed the Southwest Georgia Independent Voters Project and began the agricultural cooperative New Communities Inc. He later served as an elected member of the Albany City Council from 1976 to 1990. In 1996, he ran unsuccessfully for Georgia State Senate, his last attempt at political office. In his more recent years, Charles Sherrod is known as a former chaplain at the Georgia State Prison in Homerville and as a former teacher at Albany State University. Sherrod continues to live in Albany.