Civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth buried in Birmingham

When King took the helm of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1955, Shuttlesworth was already in Birmingham trying to start a movement. But hardly anyone was paying attention.


(Photo: Associated Press)

Shuttlesworth was from a small church, and it was easy for local whites to dismiss him as a radical. Until King came to Birmingham, Shuttlesworth couldn't get the national press to recognize his city as the embodiment of the horrors of segregation.

King became the icon of the civil rights movement, overshadowing Shuttlesworth, who was again eclipsed by King again in death.

Though he died nearly three weeks ago, Shuttlesworth's burial was postponed because of last weekend's dedication of the King Memorial on the National Mall, which drew many prominent civil rights figures to Washington.

But Shuttlesworth's record of commitment ranked him among the movement's top leaders.

He survived a Christmas 1956 bombing that destroyed his home, an assault during a 1957 protest, chest injuries when Birmingham authorities turned the hoses on demonstrators in 1963 and countless arrests.

He moved to Ohio to preach at a church in the early 1960s, but returned frequently to Alabama for protests. He came back to live in the Birmingham area after he retired a few years ago.

Friday's funeral was the last in a series of events remembering Shuttlesworth, including a public viewing of his body at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, a candlelight vigil and a memorial service Sunday with remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder, the first African-American to hold that position.

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