Reagon, Bernice Johnson, 1942-

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Born on October 4, 1942, Bernice Johnson Reagon grew up in Albany, Georgia, where she became involved in the civil rights movement. As a student at Albany State College in 1961, Reagon was arrested for participating in a SNCC demonstration. She spent the night in jail singing songs and after her arrest joined the SNCC Freedom Singers to use music as a tool for civic action. Reagon earned her B.A. in history from Spelman College in 1970. In 1973, she founded Sweet Honey in the Rock, an award-winning a cappella quintet that performs traditional African and African American music. Reagon received her doctorate in U.S. history, with a concentration in African American oral history, from Howard University in 1975.

Reagon composed and produced much of the Sweet Honey in the Rock's renowned repertoire. She has also composed music for several film projects, including the Emmy-winningWe Shall Overcome. From 1974 to 1993, Reagon worked as a folklorist, program director and curator for the Smithsonian Institute and helped develop the Peabody Award-winning radio programWade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditionsfor the Smithsonian and National Public Radio. She has been curator emeritus at the Smithsonian since 1993.

Reagon also enjoyed a distinguished career as a professor of history at the American University from 1993 to 2002. Her writings on African American music and the songs of the civil rights movement have been published in a number of journals and books. Bernice Johnson Reagon was the William and Camille Cosby Endowed Professor in the Fine Arts at her alma mater, Spelman College, for the 2002-2003 academic year.

From The HistoryMakers™ biography: https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/A2003.231

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Guy and Candie Carawan Collection, 1955-2010 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
referencedIn Branch, Taylor. Taylor Branch papers, 1865-2009 (bulk 1958-2009). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Jordan, June, 1936-2002. Audio collection of June Jordan [sound recording]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project Collection, 1965-1989 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
creatorOf Transcript and videorecordings of the South Carolina Voices of the Civil Rights Movement Conference, 1982. Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
referencedIn Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project Collection, 1965-1989 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
creatorOf Wade in the Water Radio Series Collection National Museum of American History (U.S.). Archives Center
referencedIn Anne Romaine Papers, 1935-1995 (bulk 1960-1995) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
referencedIn Fisk University. Institute for Research in Black American Music. Fisk University Institute for Research in Black American Music collection, 1920-1985. John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library. Special Collections & Archives
referencedIn Wright, Christalyn. [Programs]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Carawan, Candie. Guy and Candie Carawan collection, 1964 (FT-3673-3685). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Walker-Hill, Helen. Collection. 1887- Columbia College Chicago
referencedIn Carawan, Candie. Guy and Candie Carawan collection, 1963 (FT-3656). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Ruth Koenig Mississippi Summer Project Collection National Museum of American History (U.S.). Archives Center
referencedIn Jordan, June, 1936-2002. Papers, 1936-2002 (inclusive), 1954-2002 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Broadside Collection, 1962-1991 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
creatorOf Eugene D. Smallwood Gospel Music Collection National Museum of American History (U.S.). Archives Center
referencedIn Jordan, June, 1936-2002. Videotape collection of June Jordan [videorecording]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Broadside Collection, 1962-1991 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
creatorOf Bernice Johnson Reagon Collection of African American Sacred Music National Museum of American History (U.S.). Archives Center
referencedIn Southern Folklife Collection Artist Name File, 1940-2005 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Bernice Johnson Reagon The HistoryMakers
Place Name Admin Code Country
Washington (D.C.)
Washington (D.C.)
Albany (Ga.)
Subject
Occupation
Curator
History Professor
Music Composer
Activity

Person

Birth 1942-10-04

Birth 19421004

Americans

English

Information

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Ark ID: w6903nq1

SNAC ID: 26919515