Oliver Willis

Fred Shuttlesworth, Hero, Dies

Just an amazing group of people fought for our rights.

It was in Birmingham in the spring of 1963 that Mr. Shuttlesworth, an important ally of Dr. King, organized two tumultuous weeks of daily demonstrations by black children, students, clergymen and adults against a rigidly segregated society.

Graphic scenes of helmeted police officers and firefighters under the direction of Eugene “Bull” Connor, Birmingham’s intransigent public safety commissioner, scattering peaceful marchers with fire hoses, police dogs and rattling nightsticks, provoked a national outcry.

The brutality helped galvanize the nation’s conscience, as did the Ku Klux Klan bombing of a black Birmingham church that summer that killed four girls attending Sunday school. The events led to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, after the historic protest march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, organized in part by Mr. Shuttlesworth, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measures were the keystones of civil rights legislation.

Thanks to the work of Fred Shuttlesworth, America overcame.