This postcard of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth’s Birmingham church is signed by the reverend on the front and is postdated 1958 on the reverse. 1958 was a historic year for the legendary civil rights icon. In 1958 Shuttlesworth: 1) survives an attempted bombing of his church (after it had been bombed 2 years prior), 2) petitions for the desegregation of Birmingham city schools, 3) renews a lawsuit to desegregate the city’s parks, 4) begins hounding Dr. King to come to Birmingham for a massive campaign against segregation, 5) is arrested for sitting in the white section of a city bus, and 6) becomes secretary of the SCLC (until 1970).
Dr. King said of Rev. Shuttlesworth, “He was either insane or the most courageous man I have ever met.” Reverend Shuttlesworth was beaten, whipped with a bicycle chain for enrolling his children in an all-white school, hospitalized when “Bull” Connor famously used fire hoses on the demonstrators, and his home was bombed (while he was inside) with 12 sticks of dynamite by the KKK. His Birmingham church survived 3 separate bombings.
Because of his life’s work of fighting segregation in Birmingham and then inviting Dr. King to his civil rights-prepared city, Reverend Shuttlesworth is a big reason we have the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth passed away in 2011.