University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations


October 15, 2003

A Legendary Civil Rights Leader Speaks at USA

Civil Rights pioneer the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth will speak at the University of South Alabama at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22 in the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center.
The lecture sponsored by the USA African-American Studies program and Jaguar Productions is free and open to the public.

Shuttlesworth, a Baptist minister since 1950, was considered by many as one of the Civil Rights Movement’s “big three,” along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy. Shuttlesworth is now pastor of the Greater New Light Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

During the program at USA, Shuttlesworth will talk about “Civil and Human Rights, Today and Tomorrow.”

“We seem to be satisfied and think our journey is complete,” he said. “Before I leave this earth, I want to see a more spirited movement from the church and our youth towards eradicating racism in this country.”

Shuttlesworth said there’s more work to be done to stop violence around the world.
“You can not bomb people and make them love and respect you,” he said. “America is in danger of losing its center core. People have forgotten to be human in their quest for peace. It’s important that we teach our youth about the truth and organize a movement for peace and equality for all people.”

Shuttlesworth was born in Montgomery County and raised in Oxmoor, Ala. He joined the Civil Rights Movement in 1956 when he was a church pastor in Birmingham. In May of that year, a group of Alabama politicians outlawed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Shuttlesworth, who worked closely with King, organized a group of Birmingham’s African-American ministers. The group, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, launched a series of demonstrations and economic boycotts that led to the desegregation of Birmingham schools, stores and restaurants.

During Shuttlesworth’s fight for equality, his home was bombed twice by white segregationists. He was jailed more than 25 times.

Network television commentator Howard K. Smith referred to Shuttlesworth at the time as “he man most feared by the southern racist.”

In 1992 the City of Birmingham dedicated a statue of Shuttlesworth during the opening of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where he is a founding member. Later that year, the city also named its Huntsville Road, the F.L. Shuttlesworth Drive.

Shuttlesworth is the recipient of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute’s highest award for his civil rights work. He is also listed as one of the “Greatest Living Cincinnatians,” by the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.

Three books are written based on Shuttlesworth’s work in civil rights. They include “Step by Step,” “A Walk to Freedom: The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights,” and “A Fire You Can’t Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham’s Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth.”

A book signing is scheduled to follow Shuttlesworth’s speech. For more information call Dr. Jean McIver, director of African-American Studies at 460-6146.


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