The Rev. Charles Sherrod is shown seated in his home.

The Rev. Charles Sherrod came to Albany, Ga. in 1961 and "never, never gave up" the fight for Civil Rights in Southwest Georgia, says a friend who knew him.

Credit: Photo Clennon L. King / Augustine Monica MediaWorks by permission

Friends of the Rev. Charles Sherrod are remembering him as a bold leader who kickstarted the Civil Rights movement in Albany.

Family members confirmed that the 85-year-old died of natural causes yesterday.

Sherrod’s grassroots organizing of unregistered Black voters in the 1960’s sent shock waves through the segregated South and inspired generations of South Georgia leaders.

Those include Frank Wilson, former head of the Albany Civil Rights Institute and a friend of Sherrod’s since the 1970’s.

“He showed no fear,” Wilson said. “And it was that right there that was the appeal that he had to me.  He showed no fear.”

Sherrod’s mastery at organizing mass meetings and empowering Black youth attracted national and international attention, as well as scores of demonstrators, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Wilson says the Virginia native was one of the few who came to Albany during that period who stayed in the region and continued to fight for Civil Rights.

“He never, never gave up,” Wilson said. “You literally could say that he fought until the end. He always recognized that there were greater issues and new frontiers.”

Journalist Joshua Clark Davis tweeted a tribute to Sherrod, highlighting his involvement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

For more than 15 years beginning in 1969, he served at the helm of what became the nation’s largest Black-owned farm and first community land trust.

He served as one of Albany's first Black city commissioners from 1976 to 1990.

And in 1999, he and his wife Shirley joined other Black farmers in a class action lawsuit, suing the United States Department of Agriculture with discriminatory loan practices.

He told the Library of Congress in 2011 that his faith played a major role in his activism.

“I’m persuaded that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus,” he said. “It’s a simple verse but very meaningful to me. And what it meant was that nothing but death could stop me.”

He is survived by his wife Shirley, two children and five grandchildren.

Funeral services are planned for Saturday at 11am at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Albany.