The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, crouching at center, talks to Freedom Riders and journalists in Birmingham on May 15, 1961. (AP)

Defying his predictions, Shuttlesworth lived twice as long as he expected, dying at age 89 Wednesday morning.

As pastor fo the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., from 1953 to 1961, he was at the center for the fight for racial equality and became known for putting himself in harm’s way. King had called him “a wiry, energetic and indomitable man.”

For a documentary for the Visonary Project, at age 80, Shuttlesworth remarked, “Martin, everyone expected me to get killed more than anyone else.”

According to the Associated Press, Shuttlesworth “survived a 1956 bombing, an assault during a 1957 demonstration, chest injuries when Birmingham authorities turned fire hoses on demonstrators in 1963, and countless arrests.’’

“‘I went to jail 30 or 40 times, not for fighting or stealing or drugs,” Shuttlesworth told grade-school students in 1997. “I went to jail for a good thing, trying to make a difference.”

Here is an 80-year-old Shuttlesworth reflecting on his life’s greatest achievements:

Six days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery city buses must integrate, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and others challenged the law in Birmingham, Ala., by joining white passengers on a city bus on Dec. 26, 1956. (Robert Adams/AP)