- Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame
Fred Shuttlesworth
Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
1922 - 2011

Once called "the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South" by Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth has been a major leader of the civil rights movement for more than half a century. Rev. Shuttlesworth established the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) in May 1956. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama, he rallied the membership of the ACMHR to challenge segregated buses in Birmingham. The dedicated minister continued to lead protests even after his home was bombed on Christmas Day in 1956. The bombing did not injure Shuttlesworth, but in 1957 he was beaten with whips and chains as he led efforts to integrate an all-white public school. Undaunted by the physical attacks on him, the minister became one of the founders of SCLC in 1957 and served as SCLC's secretary (1958-1970). He participated in sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in 1960, and in 1961, joined forces with the Congress On Racial Equality (CORE) to organize the Freedom Rides against segregated interstate buses in the South. In 1963, while leading a protest against segregation in Birmingham, Shuttlesworth was slammed against a wall by the force of the water pressure from fire hoses turned on demonstrators at the order of local sheriff Bull Connor. The minister was hospitalized but undeterred. Shuttlesworth carried on his fight against racism and homelessness after moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, in the early 1960s. He is the founding pastor of the Greater New Light Baptist Church (1966-2006) in that city. Shuttlesworth went on to help organize the historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. In the 1980s, Shuttlesworth established the Shuttlesworth Housing Foundation in Cincinnati. That organization has provided grants to help hundreds of low-income families purchase homes.

Fred Shuttlesworth was the first of nine children born to Alberta Robinson Shuttlesworth. His stepfather, William Nathan Shuttlesworth, struggled to support his family as a farmer. Young Fred earned a B.A. degree from Selma University (1951) and a B.S. degree from Alabama State Teachers College (1952). He became pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1953. He was pastor of several other churches in Alabama before moving to Cincinnati.

Rev. Shuttlesworth served briefly as president of the SCLC in 2004. Though he retired from the ministry in 2006, he continued to serve as a courageous leader of the civil rights movement.