The University of Cincinnati has acquired a collection of materials from the Shropshire family of Cincinnati. Louise Shropshire was the composer of the song “If My Jesus Wills,” that was adapted to form the anthem of the civil rights movement “We Shall Overcome.” She never received credit for being the author of the famous lyrics until after her death.
Shropshire was a friend to Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth, two titans of the civil rights struggle. Shropshire, who died in 1993, was the daughter of Alabama sharecroppers and the granddaughter of slaves.
The Shropshire collection includes photographs, sheet music, letters and other documents, as well as family memorabilia. It will be stored in the university Archives and Rare Book Library. An exhibit of some of the materials is currently on display at the library.
A biography of Louise Shropshire, We Shall Overcome: Sacred Song on the Devil’s Tongue, was authored by Isaias Gamboa.