Wendell P. Dabney      

Guide to African American Resources
at the Cincinnati History Library and Archives




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Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth
  One of Reverend Fred Shuttleworth’s first sermons as a Baptist minister focused on two questions Paul had of God: “Who are you?” and “What would you have me do?” The latter question would guide Rev. Shutlesworth for the rest of his career as a socially conscious minister first in Alabama, then in Cincinnati.  
Born in 1922, Fred L. Shuttlesworth grew up in difficult times in rural Alabama. He began his ministry shortly after graduating from high school in Oxmoor, Alabama. He continued his education at Selma University and Alabama State College, eventually ending up as pastor at Birmingham Bethel Baptist Church. Shuttlesworth began a very active ministry by fighting for civil rights. He organized lunchroom sit-ins, bus boycotts and encouraged African Americans to apply for civil service jobs in Birmingham. His activism earned him frequent beatings and arrests, threats of violence to his family and a house bombing on Christmas Day in 1956. He formed the Alabama Christian Rights Movement, and went on to help form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, of which he was secretary for many years.
In 1961, Rev. Shuttlesworth moved to Cincinnati to become pastor of Revelation Baptist Church. While continuing his activism in Birmingham, Shuttlesworth fought for human rights in Cincinnati as well, joining other black ministers in a campaign to make William Lovelace the city’s first African American Municipal Court judge. He also advocated changing city council elections to increase minority representation and pushed for the hiring of minorities by the police department. In 1966 he became the pastor of Greater Light Baptist Church in Avondale and with that echo of “What would you have me do?” still ringing, Rev. Shuttlesworth continued to look into his community for opportunities to improve conditions for the poor. He established the Shuttlesworth Housing Foundation to provide low cost housing for the needy. When he was honored by leaders of the civil rights movement on his 80th birthday two years ago, he said “I have seen us come so far, but we have so much farther to go.”
The Greater Cincinnati Area Chamber of Commerce named him a "Great Living Cincinnatian" in 2000. The following year, President Clinton awarded him the President's Citizens Medal. Rev. Shuttlesworth died in Birmingham, Alabama on October 5, 2011. He was 89 years old.

To learn more about Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, consult the following resources:

A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth
By Andrew Manis
General 305.896073 M278
View catalog record   Request slip
100 Who Made a Difference: Greater Cincinnatians Who Made a Mark on the 20th Century

By Barry M. Horstman
General f920.07714 H819 R.R.
Barry M. Horstman gives a two-page overview of Fred Shuttlesworth's life in this 1999 book.   View catalog record   Request slip
Commemorative Book of the Dedication Services of Greater New Light Baptist Church
Pamphlets f286 G786
In addition to a history of the congregation, this Commemorative Book includes a biographical sketch of Rev. Shuttlesworth.   View catalog record   Request slip
Greater Cincinnati Chapter of APRI Presents a Salute to Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth: March 24, 1990

By the Cincinnati chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute
Pamphlets fB S562
View catalog record   Request slip
Adeline Harris Collection
Mss 1 AT, Interview 27
In this oral interview, Rev. Shuttlesworth describes the beginning of his ministerial career in Selma and Birmingham, Alabama, and his experience in the early Civil Rights movements in the mid-1950s. He also comments on his later work in Cincinnati. His opinion on confrontations, marches and violence are included, as well as his concerns for the poor and the importance of his religious beliefs in his life.   Request slip

Sources Used for Biographical Sketch:
  • Manis, Andrew. A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. General 305.896073 M278, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Horstman, Barry M. 100 Who Made a Difference: Greater Cincinnatians Who Made a Mark on the 20th Century. General f920.07714 H819 R.R., Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • "Shuttlesworth Honored for Life's March," Cincinnati Enquirer, March 17, 2002.


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This online guide opened on February 10, 2004.