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Fred Shuttlesworth, RIP


Sad loss of one of the last living great civil rights leaders from the minister-dominated wing of the movement. Shuttlesworth was most noted for his organization of the Birmingham actions, but throughout the movement was a tough, action-oriented leader who could push King out of his comfort zone and into more direct action. He’s also one of the leaders who need to be taught in schools, but who have found themselves dropped from the King-centric history that tends to dominate the standard narrative.

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  • Ralph Hitchens

    Truer words…. Also pushed aside is the late Edgar Nixon, who stage-managed the Montgomery bus boycott start to finish.

    • So many are pushed aside, including all the women other than Rosa Parks.

  • howard

    I spent enough time in birmingham 18-20 years ago to learn what a great and important figure shuttlesworth was but erik is right: he isn’t known the way he should be.

  • Warren Terra

    Anyone reading Taylor Branch won’t soon overlook his contribution. Though people who read Taylor Branch aren’t really the problem.

  • Njorl

    In a way, though, it is a triumph. He is someone who was the target of violence. People wanted to kill him, and tried, but he lived a long life and died a quiet, natural death.

  • Rev. King said of Shuttlesworth in Why We Can’t Wait: “There was one threat to the reign of white supremacy in Birmingham… one of the nation’s most courageous freedom fighters, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth.”

    The other “greatest generation” is leaving us.

  • Michael Stephens

    I really enjoyed this part of your US History Since 1865 class, how you emphasized the non-King aspects of the movement, and how King was “selected” from many candidates, etc.

    Ahh Southwestern was so much better than law school ;).

  • nice strategy

    Rev. Shuttlesworth came and spoke at my school a few years ago. A very inspiring, authentic, amazing man.

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