The Birmingham News reports that Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, who was a key player in the development of the Civil Rights movement, passed away today at the age of 89.
Reverend Shuttlesworth is described as the “driving force” behind integration efforts in Alabama; the work he did in Birmingham played a major role in energizing people across the nation to get involved with the movement.
Founder of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, Reverend Shuttlesworth led protests against segregated buses, was arrested at least 35 times and survived a Klu Klux Klan bombing of his home. While attempting to register his children in a newly desegregated school in 1957, his family was attacked by a racist mob; he was beaten with brass knuckles and his wife was stabbed. The Reverend was also an organizer of the Freedom Rides and an active participant in lunch counter sit-ins.
Interesting factoid: Reverend Shuttlesworth and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked together during the movement, but had a somewhat formal relationship due to differing opinions over the validity of the story of Christ’s Resurrection. Shuttlesworth did not take it to be fact and King preferred not to discuss Theology with him as a result.
He founded Greater New Life Baptist Church in Cincinnati in 1966 and was an activist-leader in Ohio until returning to Birmingham in 2007.
A co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he left the resigned from the group in 2005, stating “deceit, mistrust and a lack of spiritual discipline and truth have eaten at the core of this once-hallowed organization”. Reverend Shuttlesworth was awarded the Presidents Citizens Medal in 2001; in 2008, the Birmingham Internatinonal Airport was renamed the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport in his honor.