Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, one of the most dynamic leaders of the civil rights movement, died yesterday at the age of 89, reports the Washington Post. Shuttlesworth survived bombing attempts, beatings, and dozens of arrests in his attempts to end segregation in the South, and was key in making nonviolence a central tenet of the movement. In the early '60s, harsh images of Shuttlesworth and other protesters being attacked in Birmingham, Alabama, by police with fire hoses, dogs, and truncheons shocked America and help spur an end to segregation.
“He was one of the most courageous men that I have ever known," said Rev. Joseph Lowery, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Shuttlesworth and Martin Luther King Jr. "I don’t know of anyone else that could have led the movement in Birmingham." Shuttlesworth was beaten unconscious by a Ku Klux Klan mob when he tried to enroll his children in a white school in 1957. The year before, he suffered only minor injuries when 15 sticks of dynamite exploded beneath his bedroom window on Christmas Day. “I believe I was almost at death’s door at least 20 times,” Shuttlesworth recalled in 2001. “But when the first bomb went off, it took all fear from my mind. I knew God was with me like he was with Daniel in the lions’ den."