Ruth Harris is a musician, educator, and civil rights activist from Albany, Georgia. As a member of the SNCC, Harris participated in voter registration drives and picket lines, demonstrated, and was jailed three times. In 1962 she co-founded the SNCC Freedom Singers with Charles Neblett, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Cordell Reagon. The a cappella group toured the country many times singing old spirituals and new “freedom songs” based on the tradition of African American choral music. The Freedom Singers helped raise money for the SNCC and spread awareness of the civil rights movement to new audiences through their concerts. Harris and the Freedom Singers traveled 50,000 miles through 40 states in nine months, during which time they performed on college and university campuses, jails, marches, political meetings and rallies, and at the March on Washington in 1963. They also performed alongside folk singers Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Pete Seeger at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. The same year, The New York Times called the Freedom Singers “the ablest performing group” out of a wide field of folk musicians. The music of Harris and the Freedom Singers has been released on albums including Newport Broadside (1963) and Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights through its Songs (1990). In 1995 Harris founded a new group of Freedom Singers, the Albany Civil Rights Movement Museum Freedom Singers, who continue to tour and perform once a month at the museum. Harris also teaches at Monroe Comprehensive High School in Albany, GA.
- “Ruth Harris, Others Tell of Journeys Toward Justice in New Book” by United Methodist News Service. UMC.org. 6 November 2003.
Let Freedom Ring | April 17, 2008
Symposium III | Living History: Activists on Art and Social Justice