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Charles McDew

Charles "Chuck" McDew
Born Charles Frederick McDew
(1938-06-23) June 23, 1938
Massillon, Ohio
Nationality American
Alma mater South Carolina State College
Occupation teacher
Known for Civil rights activism
Religion Judaism

Charles "Chuck" McDew (born June 23, 1938)[1] is an Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1961 to 1964, described by fellow SNCC activist Bob Moses as a “black by birth, a Jew by choice and a revolutionary by necessity”.[2] The character of Archie (played by Stan Shaw) in the 2000 Phil Alden Robinson directed made-for-TV film Freedom Song is based on Charles McDew.[3]


A native of Massillon, Ohio, McDrew was educated at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, South Carolina,[4] where he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement, including a campaign in 1960 against segregated lunch counters.[1]

After he moved to South Carolina, the local white churches refused to allow him to worship. He then converted to Judaism after a local rabbi welcomed him with open arms. McDrew read the Talmud passage, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself only, what am I? If not now, when?" and felt he had a moral obligation to fight for justice.[5]

McDew was a founding participant of the John Lewis was elected to the role.[6] At one point, as chairman of SNCC, McDew was charged with criminal anarchy and high treason against the sovereign state of Louisiana.[7] McDew tells this story of his imprisonment in "Why The Others Died" on The Moth radio program that aired September 30, 2014.

He was subsequently active in organizations for social and political change, working as a teacher and as a labor organizer, managing anti-poverty programs in Boston and San Francisco, as well as other communities."[4]


  1. ^ a b "Charles McDew, Activist and Educator", African American Register.
  2. ^ Bob Moses, "Letter from Magnolia", The Harvard Crimson, January 22, 1962 (reprinted from The Liberator, November 1961).
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Teacher, Organizer, Activist - Charles 'Chuck' F. Charles McDew", Charles McDew website.
  5. ^
  6. ^ The Student Voice, 1960-1965: Periodical of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
  7. ^

External links

  • Charles McDew website
  • ProfileOne Person, One Vote
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