Thursday, October 06, 2011

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Civil Rights Pioneer, Passes Away

Photo Credit: waynetaylor
The death of Apple, Inc. visionary Steve Jobs has dominated the news cycle over the past day but another great influencer of American society has also passed away. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a contemporary of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and an icon of the American Civil Rights movement, entered into eternity yesterday at the age of 89.

Although not nearly as widely known by most Americans as Dr. King, Rev. Shuttlesworth was a key figure in helping to secure basic rights for African Americans during the civil rights struggle of the second half of the 20th century. tells some of his story:
"When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against segregated busing in Montgomery, Alabama, Shuttlesworth rallied the membership of a group he established in May 1956 -- the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights -- to challenge the practice of segregated busing in Birmingham.

Shuttlesworth also helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with King and other civil rights leaders.

Shuttlesworth's efforts weren't without a price: his home was bombed on Christmas Day in 1956, but he and his family were not injured.

He was, however, hurt in 1957 when he was beaten with chains and whips as he sought to integrate an all-white public school.

That same year, Shuttlesworth helped King organize the SCLC, serving as the organization's first secretary from 1958 to 1970. He later served briefly as its president in 2004.

In 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded Shuttlesworth a Presidential Citizens Medal -- the nation's second-highest civilian award -- for his leadership in the "non-violent civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, leading efforts to integrate Birmingham, Alabama's schools, buses and recreational facilities" and helping found the SCLC.

Shuttlesworth also protested segregated lunch counters and helped lead sit-ins at the eateries in 1960.

He participated in organizing the Freedom Rides against segregated interstate buses in the South when he joined forces with the Congress On Racial Equality.

In 1963, he was injured again when a fire hose was turned on him during a protest against segregation in Birmingham. The blast of water, directed against demonstrators by order of Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor, slammed Shuttlesworth against a wall. He was hospitalized but recovered.

He was also a principal in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, which he helped organize."
To read Rev. Shuttlesworth's obituary on please click here.

1 comment:

The Q said...

Wow, it's amazing how we as Americans publicize the people who shaped our future. Pop culture and technology - front page; basic human rights and eternal hope - Fred who? Sad but true, I didn't know until reading this. Thanks Scott! :-D