Called an unsung hero of the Civil Rights Movement because of the supportive role he played, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth quietly slipped away in death, Oct. 5, at 89, after having spearheaded the careers of the Civil Rights Movement leaders.
“He was the glue of the Civil Rights Movement and in many ways kept everyone grounded in the belief that everyone is a child of God,” said the Rev. Dr. Alvin Hathaway, senior pastor of Union Baptist Church in Baltimore.
Concentrating on his pastoral ministry, Rev. Shuttlesworth centered his work in the town of Birmingham and beckoned the leaders in his direction, the Rev. Andrew Young told CNN. “ Birmingham was the neediest town. By 1962 there were 60 unsolved bombings.
Shuttlesworth himself had been beaten by the Klan and his house had been bombed.”
This was their introduction to the indomitable leader who would come to be known as courageous in the face of “entrenched viciousness of organized racism,” in the words of Roy Wilkins, president of the NAACP that honored Shuttlesworth in 1962, and called him “fearless.”
He said the collective thanks of the people would ring hollow unless “we back them up with action and with the sinews of war.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once called Shuttlesworth the “most courageous civil rights fighter of the South.”
President Barack Obama called him a “testament to the strength of the human spirit,” in an expression of sadness for himself and the first lady.
“I will never forget having the opportunity several years ago to push Reverend Shuttlesworth in his wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge – a symbol of the sacrifices that he and so many others made in the name of equality,” the President said. “America owes Reverend Shuttlesworth a debt of gratitude.”
From the Archives:
Baltimore AFRO-American Newspaper, Sept 3, 1957:
They call Rev. Shuttlesworth "A voice crying in wilderness"
Baltimore AFRO-American Newspaper, Apr 16, 1963:
Dr. King and Bull Connor Locked in Bitter Struggle
Baltimore AFRO-American Newspaper, Nov 16, 1965:
Supreme Court Reverses Ala.-Shuttlesworth Case
Baltimore AFRO-American Newspaper, June 14, 1966:
SNCC To Use March as Vehicle For "Power"
Shuttlesworth Plans to Retire From SCMHR