Civil Rights Activist Rev. Charles Sherrod Dies at 85 Years Old


After decades of fighting segregation, civil rights leader, Rev. Charles Sherrod, is resting in peace at 85 years old.

The family of the activist and civil rights icon announced that he passed away due to natural causes at his home in Albany, Georgia on Tuesday. According to The New York Times, Sherrod’s wife, Shirley Sherrod, said that the cause of death was lung cancer.

“He was a great husband, a great father and great servant to his community,” Sherrod’s wife of 56 years, Shirley Miller Sherrod, said according to the outlet.

“His life serves as a shining example of service to one’s fellow man.”

Sherrod was born on January 2, 1937, in Surry, a rural town in Virginia, to his mother Martha Mae (Walker) Sherrod, and his father Raymond, who left the family when Sherrod was an infant. Sherrod completed both his undergraduate and divinity degrees at Virginia Union University in Richmond.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution provided that Sherrod helped spearhead the Albany Movement during the 1960s through his work as field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), where he helped Black people register to vote. The movement gained national attention and drew Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to help lead. Sherrod’s efforts as a civil rights activist expanded as he transported demonstrators from southwest Georgia to participate in the 1963 March on Washington, a massive protest demanding an end to segregation.

Sherrod completed his master’s degree in divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1966. In 1965, he met his wife Shirley, the daughter of a Black farmer who was gunned down on his own land by a white farmer. Together, they co-founded the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education.

From 1969 to 1985, Sherrod served as leader for what became the nation’s largest Black-owned farm and first community land trust, after traveling with others to Israel in 1968 and securing the needed capital. Sherrod acquired the 5,735-acre New Communities Inc. in neighboring Lee County to create the community-held farm which provided space for Black farmers who were thrown off their land.

In addition to his efforts during the civil rights movement, he served as one of Albany’s first black city commissioners from 1976 to 1990, ran for a seat in the state senate in 1996, taught at Albany State University, and served as chaplain at the Georgia State Prison in Homerville.

According to the outlet, the family asks that tax-deductible donations in Sherrod’s name be made to The Charles Sherrod Community Development Corporation.

Funeral services for Sherrod will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Albany.

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