Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, 89

The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, left, with Ralph Abernathy and Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963.

BIRMINGHAM, AL — “Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who died yesterday in a Birmingham hospital, is justly remembered as one of the great civil rights leaders, a man of courage who never wavered during the 1950s and 60s fight for racial justice in the face of bombs, fire hoses and numerous jailings. He also should be remembered as a man of great sadness (‘the four little children who died’), a builder, and fighter for economic justice, a battle he continued to wage long after the fires of the civil rights movement had cooled.

I know those things about Rev. Shuttlesworth because in the late 1970s, this ex-printer became the Cincinnati area director of the Ohio Public Interest Campaign (today called Ohio Citizen Action) and worked closely with him on economic justice issues like plant closings that were costing his parishioners jobs and fighting corporate tax breaks that were robbing local schools of much-needed revenue. He served formally on our board of citizen advisers and informally as the person I could always call for encouragement when things weren’t going our way.  ‘We might have to do some marchin’, I can recall him saying more than once. And every once and while, we did. Alas, the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 doused the fires that had fed local movements for economic justice during the post-Vietnam War years. Most of my friends went either into the labor movement or politics. I went into journalism.”

— Merrill Goozner, GoozNews

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Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, an Elder Statesman for Civil Rights, Dies at 89

— Jon Nordheimer, New York Times