October 6, 2011 by staff
Fred Shuttlesworth, The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, 89, one of the most courageous leaders and most dynamic civil rights movement, who survived the bombings, beatings, and dozens of arrests in their efforts to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, and all the South, died Oct. 5 at a hospital in Birmingham.
His daughter Carolyn Shuttlesworth said the cause of death was not known. Rev. Shuttlesworth had been in poor health since having a stroke four years ago
Rev. Shuttlesworth, a Baptist minister and co-founder of the Christian Leadership Conference of the South, helped establish the non-violent resistance as a central principle of the civil rights movement, often at great personal risk.
In the 1960s, he and other protesters were beaten with clubs, fire hoses and dogs loose on the public safety commissioner of Birmingham, Eugene “Bull” Connor. When images of violence on television and newspaper pages, the horrors of segregation could no longer be ignored by the rest of the nation.
Rev. Shuttlesworth is often rated at the highest level of civilian leaders of the nation’s rights, along with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, but few suffered more in the first line. He was the king said: “The courageous fighter for civil rights in the South.”
“I believe God created Fred Shuttlesworth, treat people like Bull Connor,” the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who helped found the SCLC with King and the Rev. Shuttlesworth said Wednesday. “It was one of the bravest men I ever met. I do not know of anyone who might have led the movement in Birmingham.”
Rev. Shuttlesworth faced police violence and racist mob soon after he began preaching in Birmingham in 1953. In December 1956, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, was illegal, he announced that he would challenge other discriminatory laws in court.
On Christmas Day of that year, 15 sticks of dynamite exploded under their bedroom window. The floor was burning beneath it, but only received a blow to the head.
“I think I was almost on the verge of killing at least 20 times,” said the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education in 2001. “But when the first bomb went off, took all fear from my mind. I knew God was with me like Daniel in the lions’ den. The black people of Birmingham know that God had saved the forefront of fight. ”
In 1957, when the Rev. Shuttlesworth tried to enroll their children in a white school, was beaten unconscious with chains, baseball bats and brass knuckles by a mob of Ku Klux Klan. His wife was stabbed in the hip.
“He was a warrior to test,” said civil rights activist Jesse Jackson on Wednesday in an interview. “He was bombed. He was beaten. He was the soul of the movement Birmingham.”
Rev. Shuttlesworth’s biographer, Andrew Manis, told the Birmingham News in 1999: “There was one person in the civil rights movement was in position to be killed more often than Fred Shuttlesworth.”
Rev. Shuttlesworth was arrested over 30 times, Manis said, was involved in “cases in which he was a defendant or an actor who came to the Supreme Court than anyone else in American history.”
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