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Interview with Fred Shuttlesworth, 1984 August 9

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Creator:Shuttlesworth, Fred L., 1922-2011
Creator:Sillman, Marcie
Title:Interview with Fred Shuttlesworth, 1984 August 9
Date:1984 Aug. 9

In this interview, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth discusses his early life and his eventual role in the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout the interview, Shuttlesworth speaks about the role of his religious faith played in his life and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1956 Alabama outlawed the NAACP. Shuttlesworth recounts holding a meeting when a deputy approached with a pistol and demanded that that no other NAACP meetings be held. Knowing that he would probably be arrested, Shuttlesworth called a mass meeting at Sardis Baptist Church in Birmingham. There were 600-700 attendees. During this meeting, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights was formed. This organization was formed to get around the law that prohibited NAACP meetings. Regular meetings continued to be held, with detectives sitting in. He also details his involvement with Bull Connor. Shuttlesworth consistently maintained that African-Americans be allowed to serve on the police force; this request eventually resulted in a confrontation with Connor at the Birmingham City Hall. In this interview, Shuttlesworth also describes the Klan's attempt on his life which he says did not slow down his efforts; his religious faith gave him strength to continue. Shortly after this event, he organized a bus ride in Birmingham, where blacks sat with whites. Shuttlesworth recounts being beaten for trying to enroll his children in Phillips High School. He also describes the constant harassment from the local police department. He recalls sitting in the white section of an Atlanta train station and the mob scene that resulted from this action. In 1958, Shuttlesworth's church was bombed; the person behind this incident was brought trail 22 years later and sentenced to 10 years in jail. He recalls that very few white people were involved in the movement. Shuttlesworth believes that most were afraid to speak up and simply accepted the law. He added that they were also afraid of Bull Connor and afraid of being ostracized. He briefly mentions the involvement of other Civil Rights leaders in Birmingham. Shuttlesworth's organization invited Martin Luther King Jr. to Birmingham. Shuttlesworth says: "we invited him because Birmingham was the citadel of segregation." Shuttlesworth sees the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement as the opening wedge for other movements, like the peace movement.

Interviewed by Marcie Sillman in 1984.

Types:Oral histories | Transcripts | Sound recordings | Sound | Text
Subjects:Shuttlesworth, Fred L., 1922-2011 | King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 | Connor, Eugene, 1897-1973 | African American civil rights workers--Alabama--Birmingham | Civil rights movements--Alabama | Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights | National Association for the Advancement of Colored People | Mass meetings--Alabama--Birmingham | Ku Klux Klan (1915-) | Birmingham (Ala.)--Race relations | Intimidation | Direct action--Alabama--Birmingham | United States, Alabama, Jefferson County, Birmingham, 33.5206608, -86.80249
Collection:Working Lives Oral History Project
Institution:William Stanley Hoole Special Collections Library
Contributors:William Stanley Hoole Special Collections Library (University of Alabama)
Original Material:

Archive of American Minority Cultures

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To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library.

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Forms part of the online collection: Working Lives Oral History Project.

Persistent Link to Item:http://acumen.lib.ua.edu/u0008_0000003_0000063