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Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon has been on the frontlines of the civil rights movement, academics, and the arts for decades. The founder of the a capella vocal group Sweet Honey In The Rock was born October 4, 1942 in Southwest Georgia.

Reared in Doughtery County just outside of Albany, the future activist entered what is now Albany State University in 1959, and became a founding member of the SNCC Freedom Singers, a vocal group consisting of men and women who used the power of song to advance their message of equal rights. She was expelled from the Georgia institution for protesting with SNCC, which inspired her to ramp up her activism efforts.

She completed her undergraduate studies at Spelman College and later married fellow Freedom Singer Cordell Reagon but the marriage ended in divorce. Reagon attended Howard University to continue her studies in history, earning her Ph.D. in 1975 as a Ford Scholar. In 1973,  Reagon formed Sweet Honey In The Rock, a Grammy Award-winning ensemble with rotating members.

Today, Dr. Reagon is an Emeritus Faculty member of the American University’s History department. She has also been a scholar-in-residence at Stanford University. Reagon’s daughter, Toshi Reagon, is also a celebrated musician and educator.

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