Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Freedom Singer Shares Stories of Civil Rights Movement

A woman who sang in support of civil rights says she hopes her group's original message will live on. Rutha Harris was part of the original Freedom Singers, which traveled to 48 states, singing songs and telling stories about the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Harris says many of the songs were originally spirituals; singers changed some of the lyrics to reflect the struggles they faced at the time.

The Freedom Singers began as part of a movement in Albany, Georgia. Harris and other peaceful demonstrators, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were jailed in Albany in December 1961. The singing group was organized soon afterward. Harris says the Freedom Singers had a few close calls--their car was shot at once.

Today, Harris continues to tour to tell stories about the civil rights movement. She says lots of progress has been made, but there's more yet to accomplish. And she says she was proud when the country elected its first black President.

Harris is appearing at the Byham Theater this morning as part of PNC's Black History Month Speaker Series.

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