Original Music & word by CHARLES A. TINDLEY,1901.Originally sung by STRIKING WORKERS¹ IN Charleston, SOUTH CAROLINA, the Cigar Factory Strike
In the 1940s, the cigar factory was the site of a major strike by black workers.
During the strike, worker Lucille Simmons, a choir member at Jerusalem Baptist Church, began singing the turn-of-the-20th-century gospel hymn, “I’ll Overcome Some Day.
” The words of the song were altered while being sung. That instance marked the first singing of what would evolve into the popular civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.”
The workers brought the song to a workshop at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. The school’s cultural director was Zilphia Horton.
Pete Seeger visited the school and adapted it changing the “We will overcome” to We shall overcome.” Guy Carawan introduced it to civil rights activists during a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee meeting, 1960.” It was Pete Seeger, Zilphia Horton, Guy Carawan, and Frank Hamilton who registered the copyright under their names, omitting from the copyright:CHARLES A TINDLEY and the miners. So much for TRUTH.