Civil Rights Giant Fred Shuttlesworth Dies

The minister and SCLC co-founder was 89 years old. 

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Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth

CNN is reporting that civil rights icon the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, known for his decades of work in support of desegregation, died today in Birmingham, Ala.:

Shuttlesworth is among the iconic figures honored in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. King once called Shuttlesworth "the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South."

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against segregated busing in Montgomery, Alabama, Shuttlesworth rallied the membership of a group he established in May 1956 -- the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights -- and they challenged the practice of segregated busing in Birmingham.

Shuttlesworth also helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with King and other civil rights leaders.

Read more at CNN.

Said President Barack Obama in a statement this afternoon:

Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth today.  As one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Shuttlesworth dedicated his life to advancing the cause of justice for all Americans.  He was a testament to the strength of the human spirit.  And today we stand on his shoulders, and the shoulders of all those who marched and sat and lifted their voices to help perfect our union.    

I will never forget having the opportunity several years ago to push Reverend Shuttlesworth in his wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge -- a symbol of the sacrifices that he and so many others made in the name of equality.  America owes Reverend Shuttlesworth a debt of gratitude, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sephira, and their family, friends and loved ones.

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