The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth died this morning at a Birmingham hospital.
Shuttlesworth was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership conference and considered one of the giants of the Civil Rights movement. He was 89.
His daughter confirmed the death to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“Daddy lived an incredible life and now he’s at peace,” said Patricia Shuttlesworth Massengill, his eldest daughter. She told the paper that she traveled with her sister Ruby Bester and their brother Fred Shuttlesworth Jr., to Birmingham from Cincinnati Tuesday and spent about three hours “praying and talking to” their father.
Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation told the Post’s Hamil Harris this afternoon: “It is a very sad day. We have lost one of our heroes in the movement. Rev. Shuttlesworth represented what true servant leadership was about. He led a purpose driven life until the day he died.”
The Rev. Grainger Browning, pastor of Ebenzer AME Church in Fort Washington said: ““No other civil rights leader that I can remember was so bloodied. And he kept going back. He was hit and he stayed. He made a sacrifice in terms of his physical well being. He was an example in the movement.”
Here’s a portion of an op-ed that Jabari Asim wrote for the Post in 2006:
In 1963, during the most volatile period of the Birmingham campaign led by the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a fireman hit Shuttlesworth with a blast from his hose and pinned him against the wall of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The stunned minister was taken away in an ambulance under the watchful eye of Bull Connor, the city’s notorious public safety commissioner. Watching the vehicle drive off, Connor declared, “I wish they had carried him away in a hearse.”
Shuttlesworth’s enemies often did far more than wish death on him. They ignited 16 sticks of dynamite and blew up his house in 1956 -- on Christmas Eve, no less -- with the minister and his family inside. Miraculously, no one was hurt. I was in an audience a few years ago when Shuttlesworth recalled the incident. He told his listeners that his young daughter said to him, “Daddy, they can’t kill us, can they?” To which he replied, “No baby, they can’t kill hope.”
During another violent encounter with a mob, Shuttlesworth’s wife was stabbed in the hip. She survived. There were countless other attacks. I once saw footage of an eerily calm Shuttlesworth disappearing beneath a mob of enraged whites. While recovering in the hospital, he was advised to leave his bed and go home. But he refused, thinking that he might die if he did so. “I’m not about to die,” he said. “I’m just beginning to live.”
Here’s the entire story.
We are continuing to make calls and will update this post as we get additional reaction to the death.