This podcast is part of the series: BCRI Oral History
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth was born near Birmingham in 1922. After college at Alabama State University and studies at Selma University, Shuttlesworth entered the ministry in Selma, Alabama. Shortly after he was called into the ministry, he accepted a pastorate at Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham where he remained until 1961. In 1956, the state of Alabama outlawed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from operating in the state. In response to that action, Shuttlesworth and others organized to form the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR). Led by Shuttlesworth, the ACMHR filed lawsuits, coordinated demonstrations and protests, and otherwise challenged the segregation laws of Birmingham. In retaliation, his home was bombed repeatedly. Though he accepted a pastorate at a church in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1961, Shuttlesworth retained his leadership role in the Birmingham movement and the ACMHR, inviting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and members of the SCLC to come to Birmingham in 1963. Listen to Fred Shuttlesworth describe the intensity of a mass meeting held on June 5, 1956—the date on which the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights was formally organized.