Charles Neblett

Original Civil Rights Movement Freedom Singer – Civil and Human Rights Activist. President and founder of Community Projects, Inc.

The songs spread our message,
The songs bonded us together,
The songs elevated our courage,
The songs shielded us from hate,
The songs forged our discipline,
The songs protected us from danger,
And it was the songs that kept us sane.

  • Chartered the group of the SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) Freedom Singers included Cordell Reagon, Rutha Harris, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Charles (Chuck) Neblett. Together they traveled the country, singing the songs that were composed on the picket lines, during sit-ins, and in jails, meetings and churches — using the music as motivator and organizing tool in the Civil Rights Movement
  • His journey lead to 27 arrests, multiple beatings, and put him on stage with the likes of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Harry Belafonte and Joan Baez.
  • Charles Neblett’s voice can be heard on countless broadcasts documenting the Civil Rights Movement, including “Eyes on the Prize” and “We Shall Overcome.” He is also featured on the Smithsonian recording, “Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs, 1960-1966.”
  • Guest performers for the “Celebration of Music for the Civil Rights Movement” at the White House, hosted by the first African American President and First Lady of the United States, President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama. In October 2010, he was inducted in the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame and received the Freedom Flame Award in Selma, AL in March of the same year.
  • Charles continues his involvements as President and founder of a non-profit organization called Community Projects, Inc., which brings educational programs to the children of Logan County.

"In a sense the freedom songs are the soul of the movement. They are more than just incantations of clever phrases designed to invigorate a campaign; they are as old as the history of the Negro in America. They are adaptations of the songs the slaves sang — the sorrow songs, the shouts for joy, the battle hymns and the anthems of our movement. I have heard people talk of their beat and rhythm, but we in the movement are as inspired by their words. 'Woke Up This Morning with My Mind Stayed on Freedom' is a sentence that needs no music to make its point. We sing the freedom songs today for the same reason the slaves sang them, because we too are in bondage and the songs add hope to our determination that 'We shall overcome, Black and white together, We shall overcome someday.'"

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"We would sing about anything we felt. We would sing about why we sing. We would sing about the abuses we suffered, like not being allowed to vote. We would sing of sorrow and hope."

- Dorothy Cotton, SCLC

"The outpouring of freedom songs went to the core of the struggle and expressed, as nothing else was able, the hope, belief, desire, passion, dreams, and anguish of the conflict."

- Mary King, SNCC