US President Barack Obama on Wednesday paid tribute to oft-arrested civil rights pioneer Fred Shuttlesworth, who has died at age 89, as a “testament to the strength of the human spirit.”
“Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth today,” Obama said in a statement.
“As one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Shuttlesworth dedicated his life to advancing the cause of justice for all Americans.
“He was a testament to the strength of the human spirit. And today we stand on his shoulders, and the shoulders of all those who marched and sat and lifted their voices to help perfect our union.”
Obama, America’s first black president, said he would never forget pushing Shuttlesworth across a bridge in Selma, Alabama, during a 2007 event marking a famous 1960s voting rights march.
Shuttlesworth made his name as a civil rights campaigner by leading protests at racial segregation on buses in Alabama and was a close associate of Martin Luther King.