Thousands of people gathered Monday in Birmingham to pay their final respects to the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a pioneer of the civil rights movement who was a central figure during the city’s racial struggles of the 1950′s and 1960′s.
According to My Fox Alabama, during the service, Shuttlesworth was honored for his legacy and remembered as a source of strength and hope.
Gov. Robert Bentley called Shuttlesworth a man who championed the rights to equality and fairness and freedom. Bentley said Shuttlesworth was also a teacher.
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) recognized Shuttlesworth and other freedom fighters as a key reason for her becoming the first black woman elected to Congress in Alabama. James Cole, deputy attorney general of the United States, spoke on behalf of President Obama, who was unable to attend, and read a letter Obama wrote to the family.
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), an Alabama native, also praised Shuttlesworth, as did Martin Luther King III, son of Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young and Dr. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.
The funeral also included numerous musical selections, including performances by Ruben Studdard, Peter Yarrow, Eric Essix, and Pastor Donnie McClurkin.
Shuttlesworth passed away Oct. 5th after an extended illness. He was 89.
Shuttlesworth was awarded the President’s Citizens Medal by President Clinton in 2000. He returned to Birmingham after his retirement in 2007. In October 2008, the Birmingham Airport Authority changed the name of the Birmingham International Airport to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.
John Lewis honors Fred Shuttlesworth during funeral