A courageous man and civil rights hero, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, died yesterday. This was the sort of man who the likes of Jack Kemp would have wanted to be leaders in the Republican Party. When he started working for justice, black people couldn’t sit at the same diner counter as whites. He lived long enough to see a black man in the Oval Office. Never mind that it is not the right man: The changes in the United States that made such a thing possible represent a triumph for Shuttlesworth, whose life was threatened so many times while he tried to make it happen.
There’s a great story in today’s Birmingham News about the esteem in which a great Kemp disciple and former aide, Rep. Paul Ryan, held Shuttlesworth:
As an indication of the reach of the Rev. Shuttlesworth’s legacy, Lewis, the Georgia congressman, said that just Wednesday morning, Rep. Paul Ryan, a conservative Wisconsin Republican, was suggesting that his fellow young Republicans take a trip to Alabama for the annual spring remembrance of the Selma to Montgomery March. Ryan asked Lewis specifically about the Rev. Shuttlesworth, and the two learned only minutes later that he had died. “Fred Shuttlesworth would be very proud,” Lewis said. “He’s a legend. It’s a great loss. To the movement, to Alabama, especially to Birmingham, but to our nation.”
R.I.P….. peace, and the Lord’s comfort and joy.