Among the saving graces in the Shirley Sherrod dust-up, is that it brought not just her remarkable personal story but her husband Charles' into the spotlight.
Charles Sherrod is a true, mostly unsung civil-rights hero.
A Virginia native, as a very young man he traveled to southwest Georgia in the early 1960s to help register African-American voters as a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He married Shirley Miller and wound up staying.
Salon's Joan Walsh has a very informative piece on Mr. Sherrod. One of most ironic parts of his biography considering all that happened last week, is that, as a SNCC leader, he split with the organization when a new, charismatic, black power-oriented leader kicked white activists out of organization. Sherrod wanted to continue working with white activists.
An excerpt from Walsh's piece:
Sherrod was SNCC's first field secretary, and he co-founded the Albany movement after a student sit-in at the local bus station (to test a recently enacted desegregation law) led to a years-long campaign that ultimately involved Martin Luther King Jr. and the intervention of President John F. Kennedy. He traveled to the historic (and almost all-white) 1964 Democratic National Convention, when the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party fought for more black representation. He was jailed several times and stayed with SNCC until 1966, when Stokely Carmichael became chair and whites were expelled, but he'd already become more focused on his work in southwest Georgia than SNCC politics. Sherrod got his doctor of divinity degree from New York's Union Theological Seminary, then returned to Albany to found the Southwest Georgia Independent Voters Project, then the agricultural cooperative New Communities Inc. He served 14 years on the Albany City Council, and he still lives there, known to civil rights movement veterans but obscure to the wider world, until his wife was attacked by the ignorant bullies of the right.
Again, one of the upsides of the whole Andrew Breitbart affair is that it helped to remind us that there are heroes, veterans of one of the greatest moral movements in American history, who still live quietly among us. They deserve to be better known.