Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) remembered civil rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth with a passionate speech in Birmingham, Alabama Monday.
“I first met this good man more than 50 years ago on May of 1961 at the Greyhound bus station during the Freedom Rides,” Lewis recalled at a funeral service for Shuttlesworth. “This man must be remembered as one of the bravest, most courageous individuals in the Civil Rights Movement.”
“From about 1948 to 1964, there were at least 80 unsolved bombings of black churches, homes and business in Birmingham. In fact, segregationists bombed the black community so many times that the city was nicknamed ‘Bombingham.’ Fear, real fear smothered the air, not just in Birmingham but throughout the American South.”
“But when others were terrified to stand up, to speak up and speak out, Fred Shuttlesworth put his body on the line to end segregation and racial discrimination. He had the capacity, he had the ability to bring down those signs that said white men, white women, colored men, colored women. Because of Fred Shuttlesworth, those signs are gone and they will not return.”
He added: “Birmingham is different today, Alabama is different today, America is different today, our world is different today because this good man passed this way. He was a man of steel! A man of steel. He was fearless! He wanted to smash all facets of racism and each time it raised its ugly head, he tried to erase the sign and symbol of segregation from our land.”
Shuttlesworth died on Oct. 5 at the age of 89.
Watch this video from CNN, broadcast Oct. 23, 2011.
Photo: Flickr/John Ramspott