Shuttlesworth stood up for beliefs

Published 11:25pm Tuesday, November 1, 2011

They called him crazy.  He had no fear.  They could not understand him.  So they called him crazy.

He was a preacher.  He was a pastor.  He believed in freedom so much that he risked his life on a daily basis to make that freedom a reality.

Because he had no boundaries, he exceeded other people’s boundaries of the rational.  They could not understand him so they declared him crazy.

He confronted segregation head on in Birmingham in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Sometimes he was alone.  Sometimes he had a few followers.  But he had no fear so he continued in spite of attacks from those who denied freedom to his people.

He was badly beaten with baseball bats and other weapons of destruction.  His flesh was broken but not one bone was broken.  Even the doctors could not understand why his bones were not broken.  He was so crazy he could not be stopped.

His home was blown to bits by six sticks of exploding dynamite.  The walls of the room he was sleeping in were destroyed.  Even the mattress he lay on was blown to bits.  But his body was not touched.  He was so crazy he could not be stopped.

When Autherine Lucy went to enter the University of Alabama, he was by her side.  Fearless.  When the schools of Birmingham were desegregated, he was with them.  Fearless.  When the Freedom Riders risked death to desegregate public transportation, he was there.  Fearless.  When the children faced mad dogs and powerful fire hoses, he was there.  Fearless.  When they sat in at segregated lunch counters, he was there.  Fearless.  He was wherever he needed to be.  Fearless.

On Oct. 5 he died at the ripe old age of 89.  Multiple events were held in his honor.  The churches were filled with so many pastors.  Tens of thousands of citizens came to pay their last respects.  Millions shared the funeral through television, radio, newspapers, the internet, etc.  Many voices were lifted in his praise and honor.  The name “crazy” never came up.  The one called “crazy” was now “Fred” or “Shuttlesworth” or “Reverend Shuttlesworth.”  More often than not he was called “Hero.”  He had transformed a place, a time, a name.


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