The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a pioneer of the civil rights movement, and an elder at The Cottages of St. Martin’s in the Pines, died Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala. Rev. Shuttlesworth helped focus the national spotlight on Birmingham and the violent resistance to equal rights in the South. He was 89. NPR reports:
As Birmingham goes, so goes the nation. That belief was the driving force behind Shuttlesworth’s crusade for equality.
“He was the soul and heart of the Birmingham movement,” Georgia Rep. John Lewis said. It was Birmingham, he said, that brought the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“Fred Shuttlesworth had the vision, the determination never to give up, never to give in,” Lewis said. “He led an unbelievable children’s crusade. It was the children who faced dogs, fire hoses, police billy clubs that moved and shook the nation.”
Rev. Shuttlesworth personally challenged every segregated institution in the city, said Historian Horace Huntley of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute — from schools and parks to buses, even the waiting room at the train station.
“They had a white section and a colored section. Fred and his wife bought tickets, and they sat in the white section,” Huntley told NPR. “That was revolutionary for Birmingham of the 1950s.”
One of Rev. Shuttleworth’s last public appearances was at a celebration of President Obama’s inauguration, called “Where History Meets Hope.”
“We get to live free here today because of the work of this man. We celebrate the election of our president because of the work of this man. Give this man the honor he deserves,” said Angela Hall of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
The Green House Project, shares our condolences with the family of Rev. Shuttlesworth, and our appreciation for the great work of his lifetime. We are humbled that Rev. Shuttlesworth was able to live the final part of his extraordinary journey in a Green House home, where he was cherished as a person, and honored as a legend.