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Shuttlesworth, Fred L.

Shuttlesworth, Fred L.

March 18, 1922

The minister and civil rights leader Fred Lee Shuttlesworth was born in Mugler, Alabama. He received a B.A. from Selma University in Alabama and a B.S. from Alabama State Teachers College. He became pastor of several Baptist churches, including the First Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Revelation Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. He involved himself with civil rights causes, including participating in an unsuccessful attempt in 1955 to secure positions for African Americans on the local police force. When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was banned in Alabama, he joined the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) and was elected its first president. As head of both the ACMHR and the integration movement in Birmingham, Shuttlesworth focused his attention on ending discrimination in public transportation. Although his home was destroyed by dynamite, he succeeded in overturning Birmingham's segregation law in 1961.

A believer in the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy of nonviolent direct action, Shuttlesworth helped organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and in 1957 he became secretary of the organization. During the spring of 1960, he aided student civil rights sitins in Birmingham and was arrested for his participation. In the spring of 1963, he led a major antisegregation campaign in Birmingham, which influenced passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Also in 1963, Shuttlesworth received the Rosa Parks Award from SCLC. Remaining a key adviser to King in the 1960s, he was also active in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the NAACP. In 2003, Shuttlesworth served a term as interim president of the SCLC.

See also Civil Rights Movement, U.S.; Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); King, Martin Luther, Jr.; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Southern Christian Leadership Conference


Manis, Andrew Michael. A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1999.

Ploski, Harry A. The Negro Almanac. New York: Bellwether, 1982.

White, Marjorie L., comp. A Walk to Freedom: The Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, 1956-1964. Birmingham Historical Society, 1998.

neil goldstein (1996)
Updated by publisher 2005

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