This Day in Black History: March 18, 1922

Fred Shuttlesworth, born Fred Lee Robinson, was born on March 18, 1922, in Mount Meigs, Alabama.

Fred Shuttlesworth, born Fred Lee Robinson, was born on March 18, 1922, in Mount Meigs, Alabama.

Shuttlesworth is best known for his contributions to the civil rights movement as co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Movement and his critical contribution to the organization of the Freedom Rides.

In 1956, Shuttlesworth, then the pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, became involved with the work of the NAACP and eventually formed his own group, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, when the state shut down all NAACP operations.

His activism made him the target of violence by local racists who attempted to kill him by placing 16 sticks of dynamite under his bedroom window that same year.

In 1957, Shuttlesworth joined other civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Joseph Lowery, Bayard Rustin and Ella Baker, to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. As part of the organization, Shuttlesworth helped activists organize the Freedom Rides staged against segregated interstate buses in the South.

Shuttlesworth eventually left Alabama in 1961 and re-settled in Cincinnati, becoming pastor of the Revelation Baptist Church. He returned to Alabama after his retirement in 2007.

In 2011, Shuttlesworth died at age 89 in Birmingham.

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(Photo: TAMI CHAPPELL/Reuters/Corbis)

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