BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — As he fought discrimination in his native Alabama, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth endured bombs, beatings and the constant threat of death — the price of seeking change in one of the most violent cities of the segregated South.
On Monday, Birmingham said farewell to the fiery Baptist preacher, honoring him at his funeral as a liberator who helped free the community and the country.
Shuttlesworth was "one of the founding fathers of the new America," who put his life on the line in the 1950s and 1960s to end segregation and racial discrimination, said Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who met Shuttlesworth in 1961 during the Freedom Rides.
"Birmingham is different today. Alabama is different today. America is different today, because this man passed our way," Lewis said.
Lewis was joined by pastors and other foot soldiers from the civil rights era who remembered Shuttlesworth as an architect of the movement, a man whose courage and persistence persuaded the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to come to Birmingham in 1963 to take part in historic protests that drew the eyes of the nation.
Shuttlesworth died Oct. 5 at 89. His burial was postponed because of the Oct. 16 dedication of the King Memorial on the National Mall, which drew many civil rights figures to Washington.