Civil Rights Giant Passes

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 2:08pm

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth co-founded Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth has died.

For 70 years he was a driving force in the civil rights movement, fighting to improve the lives of all Americans.

"Everybody needs to have a war against injustice -- not against people -- a war against injustice, a war against any system that sets up a thing that a man cannot be, cannot become," Shuttlesworth told NBC affiliate WLWT in a previous interview.

Shuttlesworth was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was instrumental in the 1963 civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Alabama.

"Here's a man that many historians say today made Dr. Martin Luther King the man that he was," said former Cincinnati Mayor Dwight Tillery.

Tillery said Shuttlesworth was considered one of the giants of the civil rights movement, along with King and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.

"All those folks had a great impact on me as a young person because I came through during the civil rights movement, and the whole issue of injustice is something that is very troubling for me, and it doesn't matter what color the person is, it's very troubling for me to see people, society to be injustice to other people," Tillery said. "It's a very troubling matter for me."
Shuttlesworth overcame everything from his house being bombed to fighting off dogs and water hoses in Birmingham.

"The Ku Klux Klan tried to blow me into heaven, blow me away, but you don't kill leaders; you don't kill the idea, even if you kill the person, but God saved me because he needed someone to go through a spectacular demonstration of his power to live in Birmingham," Shuttlesworth said in a previous interview. "One of the detectives said to me, 'If I were you I would get out of town as quick as I can,' and I said, 'Officer, you're not me, and you go back and tell your Klan brothers if God could save me through this, I'm here for the duration, and the war is on.'"

Shuttlesworth moved to Cincinnati in 1961 and retired several years ago from the pulpit at Greater New Light Baptist Church.

"You have to understand he was fearless," said William Mallory Sr., a former lawmaker. "He risked his life so many times to get rid of injustice and discrimination, cruel treatment of people. Where he got that courage from, I don't know."

Shuttlesworth died at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday at Princeton Baptist Hospital in Birmingham.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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