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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid