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Shuttlesworth’s legacy will live on

Can you imagine the story Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth is telling in Heaven right now? Can you imagine the family and friends gathered around him, welcoming him home and celebrating a life that is truly worth celebrating?

It must have been a wonderful story to tell. It must have been such an amazing life to live.

Wednesday, Shuttlesworth, an icon of the civil rights movent and beyond, died. But as those who knew him and those who were inspired by him commented on his life, there were some who seemed to know just what to say.

“He is certainly entitled to a place in the Kingdom,” former Atlanta mayor and former ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young said while being interviewed on CNN. “We ought to say thanks for all he did. And, celebrate that he lived this long and this well and that he is now going on to celebrate his reward in a new life.”

But think about the rewards this distinguished preacher, born in Mount Miegs, experienced before his death.

He watched as the struggles of the civil rights movement turned to victory with passage of historic legislation and watched as schools desegregated, giving all children an opportunity for an equal and quality education.

He endured beatings in Selma and bombings in Birmingham, some of which were directed at his own home and family.

And, in 2007, during the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, you can only imagine how he must have felt as he was pushed across the Edmund Pettus Bridge by a U.S. Senator from the state of Illinois, who a year later would become the first African American President of the United States. We can only imagine that feeling was easily surpassed while watching that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama becoming President.

I will never forget having the opportunity several years ago to push Reverend Shuttlesworth across the Edmund Pettus Bridge a symbol of the sacrifices that he and so many others made in the name of equality, President Obama said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. America owes Reverend Shuttlesworth a debt of gratitude

Since his death, there has been so much said and written about Shuttlesworth. And, there will be so much more said and written in the coming days and weeks about what truly is an icon of our nation. Rev. Shuttlesworth truly deserves all the wonderful things being spoken of him today, not because of his life’s work, but because of his life’s legacy.