Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

Fred Shuttlesworth

When Birmingham, Ala., was known as Bombingham — the center and symbol of racial apartheid — we believed God tolerated the ruthless reign of police commissioner "Bull" Connor because He always provides, and He provided Fred Shuttlesworth.

Fred had the support of grassroots activists, and eventually he won the support of everybody because of his boldness and his commitment to fighting racism and racial oppression. He was fearless. They couldn't intimidate him, couldn't derail him. And that drew people too, because even if people didn't agree with his style of leadership, they had to admire his courage. He was a deeply committed man of faith. He believed God would stand by the righteous, and that gave him strength to endure, to persist and to overcome the suffering that was imposed upon him. The city of Birmingham named its airport after Fred, a signal honor, but his greatest honor lives in the hearts of folks in Birmingham who found new hope, a new spirit of resistance, a new sense of tomorrow because of the leadership of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

Lowery is a former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference