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The Freedom Singers were originally formed in 1962 to raise money for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and their songs and music played an important role in the Civil Rights movement. One of the group's key founders was Cordell Hull Reagon, known for his many nonviolence training workshops and anti-segregation efforts in the Albany, Georgia area. Other founding members included Bernice Johnson (who later married Reagon), Charles Neblett and Rutha Harris. They traveled widely and won new fans at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. In 1964 the group reformed as an all-male quartet with another Nashville native, Matt Jones.

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