NAACP Mourns Loss of Rev. Fred ShuttlesworthOctober 05, 2011
Civil rights leader co-founded Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led protests against segregation
(Baltimore, MD) – The NAACP mourns the loss of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, civil rights leader and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He passed away on October 5, 2011, at age 89.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a civil rights icon and lifelong member of the NAACP,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “Rev. Shuttlesworth held a sustained belief in the power of nonviolence, even maintaining those beliefs after attempts on his life and physical attacks by white supremacists and police. His legacy is reflected in the organizations he helped shape, and in the protests that continue to inspire generations of young civil rights leaders.”
“Rev. Shuttlesworth will be remembered with the highest possible esteem for his work in the civil rights movement,” stated NAACP Chairman Emeritus Myrlie Evers-Williams. “He was a dear friend of mine, and a crusader who mobilized thousands to get involved in the fight for equality. Nothing could stop him in his campaign for justice; not fire hoses or death threats. He will truly be missed by those who knew him and by those who continue to look to him for inspiration.”
"He was a warrior,” stated NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond. “He was among the most fearless of the nonviolent soldiers in the freedom army, a leader who never got his just due."
"Today, we lost a true pillar of the civil rights community," stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. "During the civil rights era, Rev. Shuttlesworth fearlessly confronted all manners of segregation. His leadership during that time was critical in helping knock down the barriers to equality.”
In the 1950’s, Rev. Shuttlesworth served as pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham and founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. In 1956, his organization challenged the practice of segregated busing in Birmingham. The following year, Rev. Shuttlesworth founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders. He served as that organization’s secretary from 1958-1970.
In 1960, Rev. Shuttlesworth participated in the sit-in protests against segregated lunch counters. The following year, he helped organize the Alabama Freedom Rides, where African American activists rode buses into segregated states in order to challenge segregation laws. In 1963, he was a key leader in the SCLC’s Birmingham Campaign.
In 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded Rev. Shuttlesworth a Presidential Citizens Medal for his leadership in the "non-violent civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, leading efforts to integrate Birmingham, Alabama's schools, buses and recreational facilities" and for helping to found the SCLC. He is honored in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Finally, the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is named in his honor.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.