Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, 2002 Oral History


Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, 2002 Oral History


Rev. Fred Lee Shuttlesworth (b. March 18, 1922; d. October 5, 2011) – Rev. Shuttlesworth, a Birmingham Baptist Minister and Pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham from 1953 to 1961. He was the founder of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) in 1956 in response to the State of Alabama banning the NAACP. A major leader in the struggle for Civil Rights in Birmingham and nationally, he left Birmingham in 1961 but returned frequently to participate in the struggle. One of the leaders to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther King, Rev. Shuttlesworth played an active role in struggles in Selma, Alabama and St. Augustine, Florida.


Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


June 17, 2002


Mark Usry
Emily Bibb






Bob Friedman


Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth


Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth: Segregationists though til eternity.

Bob Friedman: Right

FS: And they thought that the walls couldn't fall down and wouldn't. And you really...I have said many times that I don't even think the White people who controlled everything back then, or even today, are fully conscious of how enslaved they were while they had their operatives tryin' to keep us enslaved. You know, um, when you think of the subversive acts between the officials up, all up and down the line. The local officials, the sheriffs, the police, the Klan.

BF: Mhm

FS: The judges, the leaders of Birmingham who said they were making progress. Foolin' people... since they were tryin' to get justice and had...didn't have justice on their mind......

BF: Mhm

FS: I used to say... I don't know how the Lord got, had me to figure it out, but segregation was a sort of a three tiered thing. They'd say well if the Klan don't stop you, the police will. It's the police miss ya then the courts'll get ya.

BF: Right

FS: So you, what you would was designed and nobody could pay.

BF: Mhm

FS: You shall not pass.

BF: Mhm

FS: But, uh, I always said well God said light shines in darkness and darkness can't stop it.

BF: We have some similar problems today with the courts. Uh...

FS: Oh yes.

BF: That are very tough in Alabama.

FS: Yes

BF: To get, uh...I mean our...You're probably familiar we had a big brawl and still continue to in terms of the ownership of the water system.

FS: Oh yeah

BF: And of always had to go up against judges who seem to have their minds made up already. Uh.

FS: I call that a system of spiritual wickedness in high place, when you get in the high place, and forget what you're there for...let politics, uh, intrigue really stops the progress of the people moving forward.

BF: Yes

FS: I think that's the main thing. I don't...

BF: That's the main thing.

FS: I think people in position...well when you have position and power...

BF: Mhm

FS: You can really slow progress. How you can help to get forward and I always believed that you oughta use opportunities that God gives you to move things forward and make things better for people.


Full interview: 45 minutes
Audio snippet: 2 minutes


Rev Fred 2002.jpg
Fred Shuttlesworth 2002 2 min.mp3
Fred Shuttlesworth 2002.pdf


Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Bob Friedman, “Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, 2002 Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed July 13, 2024,

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