As pastor of Birmingham, Alabama's First Baptist Church, Shuttlesworth organized the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in 1956. He served as president of the group until 1969 and spearheaded the movement to integrate Birmingham's schools, offices, and public facilities.
Shuttlesworth worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr., establishing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1958 and organizing the protests and actions in Birmingham during the spring of 1963. He was secretary of the SCLC from 1958 to 1970. He continues his campaign for racial and social justice as a minister in Cincinnati.