HONORING CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS
Moving Forward to the Next Generational Leaders
7/26/2017, noon | Updated on 7/26/2017, noon
HONORING CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS Moving Forward to the Next Generational Leaders
By Christopher Shuttlesworth
The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was one of the most influential Civil Rights leaders during the 1960s civil rights movement, but Shuttlesworth started off with humbling beginnings.
Freddie Lee Robinson was born on March 18, 1922 in Mount Meigs, Alabama. His
family soon moved to Birmingham, Alabama. As Shuttlesworth grew older, he took a major interest in ministry and enrolled at Selma University where he earned his B.A. degree in 1951. Later, he became a Baptist Pastor of Birmingham’s Bethel Baptist Church in 1953.
After the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education, Shuttlesworth established the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in 1956, and cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Minister Ralph D. Abernathy.
Maureen Forte, a member of his family, said Shuttlesworth was a worker who was for the people. “One thing about Re v. Fred, he didn’t like being called an activist. He liked being called an ‘actionist’ because he was a person who was about action.”
Under the SCLC, Shuttlesworth helped lead efforts to fight for quality jobs for African Americans and led bus desegregation efforts, marches and protests in Birmingham.
As a Civil Rights leader, Shuttlesworth was thrown in jail on multiple occasions and his family experienced bomb attacks, according to biography.com.“We wanted confrontation, nonviolent confrontation, to see if it would work,” Shuttlesworth
said. “Not just for Birmingham, but for the nation. We were trying to launch a systematic, wholehearted battle against segregation, which would set the pace for the nation,” biography. com reported.
Forte said today’s young generation needs to understand the importance of Shuttlesworth’s efforts because she said there’s “a lot of Facebook activists today, but not a lot of actionists.”
Due to his efforts in the Civil Rights movement, Shuttlesworth was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal from Bill Clinton in 2001 and honored with the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in 2008. He died at the age of 89 years old on
October 5, 2011.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition recently honored several Civil Rights Leaders including the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr., the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth during its 46th Annual Convention held on July 12-15. Numerous issues including
voter suppression, poverty and violence as well as health care and business initiatives were also addressed at the convention.
While visitors from around the world attended workshops and panels, several prominent figures gave speeches including Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez.