Fred Shuttlesworth: Uncompromising Leader, Intrepid Icon

Historic leader, world changer, intrepid icon -- all words that fall short as descriptors of one truly magnificent human being who changed our history and turned the world as we knew it upside down in a handful of tumultuous years.

We lost an uncompromising leader in the passing of Fred Shuttlesworth, a life-long defender of humanity, a key figure who fought tirelessly for civil rights in an uncivil time in a place brimming to overflow with bigotry of insatiable proportions.

Shuttlesworth was an Alabama native and a Baptist preacher who confronted the evils of the epoch head on. He co-founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights when the state's NAACP was outlawed from operating and dared to challenge the status quo all the way up the steps of the Supreme Court, which declared Birmingham's bus segregation to be unconstitutional.

Always a central figure, The Reverend Shuttlesworth took part in the organization of the Freedom Rides and invited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Birmingham to institute those actions that led to sweeping changes in Federal legislation.

Reverend Shuttlesworth never failed to encourage others to put their eloquent words into action. Even upon the threat of death, he would retort, "I wasn't saved to run."

We lost more than just a historic figure. Gone from among us is a man of principle who lived in the face of seething opposition, and who despite beatings, bombings, arrests and acts of violence perpetrated against him and his family, stood unwavering in his convictions.

He made a lasting impression that allows those of us who vaguely recall the "colored" and "white" only signs above the drinking fountains to pass along certain freedoms as the legacy that we leave our children's children.

In eulogizing, a man now gone, I leave you with a quote from the Book of Proverbs:

Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

Here lived Fred Shuttlesworth, a good and faithful servant-hero.

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