The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, the civil rights icon hailed in his native Alabama as a “black Moses,” has died, his daughter confirmed.
“Daddy lived an incredible life and now he’s at peace,” said Patricia Shuttlesworth Massengill, his eldest daughter. Massengill, along with her sister Ruby Bester and their brother Fred Shuttlesworth Jr., traveled to Birmingham from Cincinnati Tuesday and spent about three hours “praying and talking to” their father, whose once thundering voice was silenced several years ago by a stroke.
Their other sibling, Carolyn Shuttlesworth, visited their father in a Birmingham hospice last week.
Described in a 1961 CBS documentary as “the man most feared by Southern racists,” Shuttlesworth survived bombings, beatings, repeated jailings and other attacks – physical and financial – in his unyielding determination to heal the country’s most enduring, divisive and volatile chasm.
“They were trying to blow me into heaven,” Shuttlesworth, who spent most of his adult life in Cincinnati, said of those who violently opposed him in Birmingham and throughout the South. “But God wanted me on Earth.”
The former truck driver studied religion at night and became pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., in 1953. Soon after he became an outspoken leader in the fight for racial equality.
King called Shuttlesworth “one of the nation’s most courageous freedom fighters” in his 1963 book, Why We Can’t Wait.
He survived a 1956 bombing, an assault during a 1957 demonstration and countless arrests.
SOURCE: The Cincinnati Enquirer | The Associated Press