Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fred Shuttlesworth - R.I.P.

                                   Fred Shuttlesworth                              
                           [By John Lewis Monday, Oct. 24, 2011, Time Magazine]
“From about 1948 to 1964, there were at least 80 unsolved bombings of black churches, homes and businesses in Birmingham, Ala. Segregationists targeted the black community so frequently that the city was nicknamed Bombingham. When others were terrified to stand up and speak out, Fred Shuttlesworth, who died Oct. 5 at 89, put his body on the line to end segregation in Birmingham and the state of Alabama. He was fearless. Shuttlesworth was beaten with chains, his home and church were bombed, and he lived under constant threat of violence and murder. But he never, ever lost faith in the power of love to overcome hate. He was doggedly determined on the one hand but a modest, gentle spirit on the other. He never tried to shine. He just wanted to make a difference. And he did. The Birmingham movement was so effective, Shuttlesworth once commented, that we made a steer out of commissioner of public safety Eugene "Bull" Connor, our prime adversary. Shuttlesworth must be looked upon as one of the founders of the new America. Through his courage and sacrifice, he helped liberate not just a people but an entire nation from the burden of hate.

Fred Shuttlesworth put everything he had to give behind the Civil Rights Movement. He was a quiet, behind the scenes type of guy who felt he was simply standing up for this thing we call “freedom”; after all, it said so in our Constitution. And now, upon his passing, the folks at Time Magazine would have you believe that we are truly “liberated” from our burden of hate through the unwavering acts of Mr. Shuttlesworth.

Well, what he fought for was, and still is, one of our Nation’s most noble causes. Did he “liberate” us? Have any of our passionate civil rights activists “liberated” us? The answer to that is all around you. I would argue that in 2011 we are as embroiled in hatred, racism, and bigotry as we have ever been. I would also ask, “Why are we even having this discussion in the year 2011?” Fred Shuttlesworth is truly one of unheralded heroes of this Nation that very few people knew of. He will be sorely missed, and I salute him for standing up and making a difference.
John Lewis is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 5th Congressional District

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