America

Civil Rights Legend Rev. Shuttlesworth Dies; Defied Jim Crow Laws

Civil rights leaders Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, center, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy hold a news conference in Birmingham, Ala., in this May 8, 1963 file photo. Shuttlesworth, who was hailed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for his courage and energy, died Wednesday, Oct. 5. i i

Civil rights leaders Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, center, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy hold a news conference in Birmingham, Ala., in this May 8, 1963 file photo. Shuttlesworth, who was hailed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for his courage and energy, died Wednesday, Oct. 5.

AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP
Civil rights leaders Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, center, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy hold a news conference in Birmingham, Ala., in this May 8, 1963 file photo. Shuttlesworth, who was hailed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for his courage and energy, died Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Civil rights leaders Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, center, and Rev. Ralph Abernathy hold a news conference in Birmingham, Ala., in this May 8, 1963 file photo. Shuttlesworth, who was hailed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for his courage and energy, died Wednesday, Oct. 5.

AP

Civil rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth has died, according to reports. He was 89. In the 1950s, Shuttleworth's activism resulted in beatings and attempts on his life in Birmingham, where he established the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in 1956.

In this file photo from 2007, Sen. Barack Obama pushes civil rights activist Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth during a commemoration of the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" Voting Rights march in Selma, Ala. Shuttlesworth died Wednesday, at age 89. i i

In this file photo from 2007, Sen. Barack Obama pushes civil rights activist Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth during a commemoration of the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" Voting Rights march in Selma, Ala. Shuttlesworth died Wednesday, at age 89.

Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Scott Olson/Getty Images
In this file photo from 2007, Sen. Barack Obama pushes civil rights activist Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth during a commemoration of the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" Voting Rights march in Selma, Ala. Shuttlesworth died Wednesday, at age 89.

In this file photo from 2007, Sen. Barack Obama pushes civil rights activist Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth during a commemoration of the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" Voting Rights march in Selma, Ala. Shuttlesworth died Wednesday, at age 89.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Birmingham News has put up a slideshow of the civil rights leader, along with some highlights of his life-long struggle against racism and discrimination:

The Rev. Shuttlesworth, who was brutally beaten by a mob, sprayed with city fire hoses, arrested by police 35 times and also blown out of his bed by a Ku Klux Klan bomb during his struggle against segregation in Birmingham, said he never feared death.

"I tried to get killed in Birmingham and go home to God because I knew it would be better for you in Birmingham," he once told an audience of students at Lawson State Community College.

In an obituary that airs on All Things Considered this afternoon, Debbie Elliott reports that Shuttlesworth was known for pushing for change in what had come to be called "Bombingham."

And Shuttlesworth was also essential to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as Rep. John Lewis tells Elliott:

"Fred Shuttlesworth had the vision, the determination never to give up, never to give in," Lewis says. "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."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.