Civil-rights activist honored upon death

Fred Shuttlesworth’s widow Sephira Shuttlesworth holds her hand over the casket during the march from Bethel Baptist Church to the new Bethel Baptist Church in the Collegeville neighborhood of Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 22. (Michelle Campbell | AP Photo/The Birmingham News)

With lowered flags and written words, Ohio Gov. John Kasich honored a civil-rights leader who brought his work from Birmingham, Ala., to Ohio.

Kasich passed a resolution Friday recognizing the life and work of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in Alabama and continued his civil-rights efforts as the founder and pastor of a church in Cincinnati.

Shuttlesworth died Oct. 5. He was 89 years old.

“He is a major figure in the civil-rights movement who worked tirelessly to challenge Jim Crow segregation,” said Joan Weston, an assistant professor in OU’s African American Studies department. “Because he showed that courage, he inspired others to put their lives on the line. He showed a tremendous amount of courage in the face of American terrorism.”

Weston, who is from Alabama, said Shuttlesworth’s presence and influence are felt more strongly there than in Ohio.

“When you fly into Birmingham, you fly into the Shuttlesworth Airport,” she said. “It’s named for him. It’s a constant reminder for what he did, not just for disenfranchised black people, but also the promise of democracy.”

Shuttlesworth was already in the process of fighting for civil rights in Birmingham, Ala., when King became involved with the movement, and the two of them worked together to combat Jim Crow laws. Shuttlesworth was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1961, he founded the Greater New Light Baptist Church in Cincinnati.

“Rev. Shuttlesworth is widely known as one of the bravest and most dynamic leaders of the Civil Rights Movement — a man who survived bombings, beatings and dozens of arrests in his efforts to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama …” the resolution states.

Today, the U.S. and Ohio flags at the Ohio Statehouse and at public buildings throughout Hamilton County will be flown half-staff in Shuttlesworth’s honor, according to the resolution.

Though Shuttlesworth died earlier this month, he was buried this weekend because of the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., Oct. 16.

—The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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