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Fred Shuttlesworth dead at 89

Janelle Vreeland

Fred Shuttlesworth

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was a pioneer of the civil rights movement

Fred Shuttlesworth has died at the age of 89.

NPR reports that Rev. Shuttlesworth was hailed by Martin Luther King Jr. for the courage and energy he exhibited as a pioneer of the civil rights movement. He led Birmingham, Alabama’s battle against segregation and was named the “man most feared by Southern racists” by CBS in 1961. Shuttlesworth’s home and church were even bombed by the Ku Klux Klan, but Shuttlesworth never gave in.

“Instead of running away from the blast, running away from the Klansman,” Shuttlesworth said later. “I said to the Klansman police that came — he said, ‘Reverend, if I were you I’d get out of town fast.’ I said, ‘Officer you’re not me. You go back and tell your Klan brethren if God could keep me through this, then I’m here for the duration.’”

Upon hearing the news of Shuttlesworth’s passing, Rep. John Lewis released a statement on his official site, saying “[Shuttlesworth] was an inspiring force.  He was one of the bravest members of the Civil Rights Movement.  He inspired countless people in the most resistant, dangerous areas of the South, and those around the nation, to stand up against injustice.   All of us, each and every American as well as all those around the world who have used the Civil Rights movement as a template for their own struggles for change, owe Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth a heavy debt of gratitude for his willingness to give all he had to help build a more fair, more just society.”

Read more about the life and legacy of Fred Shuttlesworth here.

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