Known for his segregation motto of, "Kill segregation or be killed by it," Shuttlesworth played an outspoken, pivotal role in the fight for racial equality.
The name Fred Shuttlesworth should be a household name, but sadly, it might not be.
Although I grew up in a family that proudly taught me about Black History, sadly, it was not something that was included in the curriculum of my elementary, middle and high school.
It wasn't until I attended one of my alma maters, Florida A&M University (FAMU), which is a Historically Black College and University, that I learned about Shuttlesworth and grasped a greater knowledge of Black History.
For those of you unfamiliar with Shuttlesworth, here's a quick :
Born Freddie Lee Robinson in Mount Meigs, Ala., Shuttlesworth went on to became pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1953 and the Membership Chairman of the Alabama state chapter of the NAACP in 1956, when the State of Alabama formally outlawed it from operating within the state.
In 1957, Shuttlesworth along with The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, of Montgomery; The Rev. Joseph Lowery, of Mobile, Ala.; The Rev. T.J. Jemison, of Baton Rouge, La.; The Rev. C.K. Steele, of Tallahassee, Fla.; The Rev. A.L. Davis, of New Orleans; and Bayard Rustin and Ella Baker joined together to found the Southern Leadership Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration, later renamed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Additionally, Shuttlesworth was known for being a target in the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing that killed four little girls, which was later depicted in Spike Lee's 1997 documentary, "4 Little Girls".
While King went on to international fame, Shuttlesworth was relatively little known outside Alabama.
His other credits included leading a group to integrate Birmingham's buses and then suing after police arrested twenty-one passengers and facing mobs to enroll his children in an all-white segregated Birmingham school.
A statue of him stands outside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Birmingham airport is named after him.
Reportedly, one of Shuttlesworth's proudest moments came in November 2008 when he watched Sen. Barack Obama become the nation's first African-American president.
The year before, Obama had pushed Shuttlesworth's wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma during a commemoration of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.
Do you have any fond memories of Shuttlesworth?
Did you learn about him and his efforts in school?
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