BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – Birmingham plans to honor its most prominent civil rights leader, the late Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, this week on his 100th birthday.
Mayor Randall Woodfin will proclaim Friday that Fred Shuttlesworth Day will coincide with his March 18 birthday. The proclamation will be released at an event at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and the museum will offer free tours as part of the celebration.
Shuttlesworth, who died in 2011 aged 89, became pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1953 and quickly became a key leader in the fight for racial equality in what was sometimes called the city the most segregated in America. Shuttleworth’s home was bombed, and he was repeatedly beaten and arrested in the fight for civil rights.
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., an important ally whose civil rights leadership began in Montgomery while Shuttlesworth was working in Birmingham, praised Shuttlesworth for his courage and tenacity.
A statue of Shuttlesworth already stands in front of the institute and the city’s airport is named after him.