News / USA

Civil Rights Pioneer Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth Is Remembered

In this June 2007 file photo, Civil rights activist the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth departs the Federal Courthouse in Montgomery, Alabama.
In this June 2007 file photo, Civil rights activist the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth departs the Federal Courthouse in Montgomery, Alabama.

One of the leaders of the the civil rights movement in America, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, died recently and will be buried later this month [October 24] in his home town of Birmingham, Alabama. Shuttlesworth was a fire-and-brimstone preacher who endured a bombing, and beatings.

Many prominent African Americans believe that without Shuttlesworth, the civil-rights movement would not have achieved what it did.

Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama, said, "Oh, I would not be the mayor of the city of Birmingham were it not for the courageous acts of Reverend Shuttlesworth, and I will forever be grateful."

As pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Shuttlesworth was outspoken in his campaigning for civil rights and he aggressively confronted the Klu Klux Klan.

His home and church were bombed and he was beaten when he tried to enroll his daughters in an all-white high school.

Shuttlesworth formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. And in the early 1960s, he encouraged King to come to Birmingham and focus his efforts in the city.

"From that point on, the civil-rights movement gained international prominence, especially after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, as well as Reverend Shuttlesworth's home itself," said Bell.

The death of four girls in the 16th Street Church bombing by the KKK, and the unleashing of police dogs and firehoses on civil rights demonstrators, shocked the nation and the world.

Bell first met Shuttlesworth in 1963 at a rally. He said the reverend often talked about how God had removed all fear from him.

"And he was a man that walked without fear, and it was very evident anytime you met him he just had this aura about him," remembered Bell.

Shuttlesworth was sometimes criticized for his confrontational attitude, in contrast to the conciliatory manner of Dr. King.

In an interview with the oral history project of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Shuttlesworth recalled encouraging his followers to form a new civil-rights group after Alabama outlawed the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  

"I asked them, do they want to organize three or four different times. I said, 'Now if you want to organize you must remember that it may mean going to jail. It may mean death for some of us.' But if you do not have something that you would give your life for you may not find anything worth living for," said Shuttlesworth.

Shuttlesworth's death on October 5 was overshadowed by the passing of another transformational American figure, Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs. But those who knew Reverend Shuttlesworth say he was not out for recognition.

The funeral will be held October 24 at Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham.


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid