Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth (1996) (2 of 5)

BCRI Oral History Collection
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SHUTTLESWORTH: So okay. So, that, that's a Wednesday night. That Sunday morning, boy, my church was packed. Folks had done heard. Pritchard had been running the church for years 'fore we're talking about. So, it was terrific. So, I got there that Sunday morning. (inaudible) have no deacons. And the one deacon that was friendly with me, he died that same week. It was too much for him. And I had to ask the Lord in my stress, Lord, where are you? What's happening? But I never lost-- Because, see, I believe if you do what's right and what's just and fair in any situation, then that's when you'll be taken care of. And people have to understand the biggest and the best things in life are not done really by us, they're done for us. And so, they were there, so that Sunday morning, (laughing, 00:01:00inaudible) them same folks sitting on that same seat.

But I wanted to tell you this little-- during the conference, Pritchard got up and say, Yeah, many, many a-- (I'm back in the conference) --

HUNTLEY: Mm-hmm.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Many notes that I signed for him. See, he signed, I got about a hundred dollars from the bank and he countersigned. I said, What has that got to do with this? I said but since you brought it up, tell the people how many you've had to pay a little. 'Cause I always paid my notes ahead of time. (inaudible) Well, I didn't have to pay nothing! I said, Well, you just countersigned then. I said, Have you ever read where the Bible says, Don't do your alms to be seen of men? I said, Brother Pritchard, you have a pray a little bit more, because if you didn't do it out the spirit of right and helpfulness, you still didn't do it right. I said, God has no place in this here. And you can't do that to buy somebody, I'm not to be bought.

HUNTLEY: See now, that is significant.


SHUTTLESWORTH: I said, You can't buy me, you can't buy my voice. I'm like John the Baptist, the voice of him that cries in the wilderness. I'm gone speak the truth of God. So, that night, Pritchard got up and said, y'all (inaudible)! I said, Brethren, if I had wanted you to resign that would have been the first thing I would do, fire the deacons. I say, I (inaudible) that. I say, I can work with you if you can work with me. I say, So I didn't ask that, so you don't have to resign. We just have to establish a relationship. No, no, no, I'll resign, I can't, I can't, no, no-- Then Ben Harris got up. Then Danzy, then all eight of them. And I had to say, Lord, where are you, you know, when this man died during that week.

So, then that Sunday morning, as the Lord would have it, I had spoken to, think 00:03:00I got six men to agree to serve as temporary deacons. If I had known like I know now, I'd put them in as permanent deacons. So that Sunday morning, boy, I done preached and got everything ready to go home.

I said, Because of the action of the former deacons, the church does not have any deacons at this time. I say, I'm calling the following men down to the front of the church, would you come down, brethren, as I call your name? So-and-so, called six. So, they came, I said, come into the front. I said I recommend to the church that these men serve as temporary deacons. Now in that church, they sat around the pulpit, which was kind of around, facing the audience. So, when they voted then they started to go back up, I said, No, gentlemen, y'all sit down here now, face the audience. Y'all are the deacons.

HUNTLEY: Mm-hmm (chuckling).

SHUTTLESWORTH: Say I'm asking the following persons to stand as I call your name. I'm recommending these be ward leaders, and sure enough, then I stood and 00:04:00dismissed them. The church went on. That was, what was that, I'm trying to see, what month-- October. Had to be October. Same day that Carl Erskine struck out those fifteen Yankees in the World Series.

HUNTLEY: Hm-hmm.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, I knew I was gonna leave the church anyway. I was just about tired of it. So, in November, I went to Mobile, and T. J. Hale, pastor of (inaudible), said he was going to somewhere in-- But I should tell you this. This is where really the Lord let me-- this is, this is the closest thing to my conversion, and that might have been the ____?____. During this situation at First Baptist -- remember I told you I went to do that revival?

HUNTLEY: Hm-hmm.

SHUTTLESWORTH: It was, was that, let's see, it was during time of the convention 00:05:00and we had to be on a train. So, it had to be in either September, yeah, September, same time I came back and told Pritchard out, to go to hell. I was on the train going to the convention. And you know how people joke and tell lies on the train, little Negroes from Gadsden, Alabama, had joked and lied all the way to California, (laughter) almost, on the train at night. And I had not been able to sleep in really weeks, I guess. And look like when I go to sleep, something would be just doing this to me. And it was problems. Going to school, studying, trying to do. But I trusted in God.

So, I was on this train, and I sat and talked, after while, about one, two, 00:06:00three o'clock in the morning, everybody would go to sleep anyway. I sat in my seat and tried to go to sleep and couldn't. Everybody was on the train. So, I went the length of that train to see if anybody was woke, awake, that I could talk to, and nobody was awake, six or eight cars. And so, then I decided I would go and get in the end of the car, you know, those half doors, so I was gone look out and see what we were passing, since I, you know, couldn't talk to anybody. And it was black dark, I didn't think about that. And I tried to look out and the train was going so fast water would cut out your eye so I couldn't look out.

So, I stood up in the end of that train and said these words, Lord, I don't know why you sent me to First Baptist. I say, I had little rural churches, and I was 00:07:00teaching school and I was doing well, and I was satisfied I was doing your will. And somehow or another you decided to send me to First Baptist for your own purposes I guess. I said, But now you know the situation, I don't have to tell you. I said, And I realize that, all through the Bible I read of people who really follow you have had to suffer, some killed. I said, Now I'm willing to do that. I said I don't even mind my family suffering. I said, But one thing I want you to do. I said, Fix me so I won't worry.


SHUTTLESWORTH: And honestly I must say to you it looked like somebody just, while I'm talking, lifted that whole train off of me. I went right back to my seat and sat down and went to sleep, that same... I knew then it was the Lord.


HUNTLEY: That's powerful. That's powerful.

SHUTTLESWORTH: That was one of the most powerful, except for that bomb blast and two or three other things. But God was getting me ready. And when that, looked like that whole train just lifted off of me. And I knew it was the Lord, and I went back and sat down and went to sleep and didn't worry about nothing from that day to this one. So, then I'm in Mobile now and Rev. Hale had to go to Florida to preach, and I wanted to go to Florida, somehow or another I wanted to go to Pensacola.

HUNTLEY: Wait, you say you're in Mobile now.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I went to Mobile for a visit.


SHUTTLESWORTH: I wasn't living in Mobile, see. I lived in Selma.


SHUTTLESWORTH: And Motley -- I had gone down to either, see, 'bout the end of November, I just walked away from the church, you know, during December, and I went to Mobile. And Motley said to me, said, T. J. Hale's going to Pensacola to 00:09:00preach that afternoon service, and he said I'm going to let you preach so you can be heard. So that was good for me, that's why I went. I just didn't tell them I wasn't coming back to church that day. So, T. J. said to me, he told me, you don't have to go now. He said you do what you need to do, and I can get you an appointment down there, which satisfied me. So, I came on back to Birmingham and for a month, see it was only a month that I wasn't pastoring, in all my forty or near fifty years.

HUNTLEY: So, you actually left First Baptist--

SHUTTLESWORTH: At the end of the year, yeah.

HUNTLEY: and went to Mobile.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Didn't go to Mobile to preach this time, just went to visit. I was going to Florida that day, see, and that was either the end of November or 00:10:00the first of January, it wasn't long. It wasn't too long after that conference, but I had the authority now, the church was with me, and I think they were disappointed I left, but I just didn't want to-- because, see, they wanted those old deacons put back. And that's really what made me decide, you know, not to stay and keep fighting.

HUNTLEY: The church wanted those old deacons back in there. That's why you said it would have been more advantageous if you had put those men in permanently.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Permanently, right.

HUNTLEY: Rather than temporarily.

SHUTTLESWORTH: See, you had two preachers in there. (inaudible) who was a great Bible teacher, and this old man who told me to call the conference, said, well, folks there really ain't with you, they just want their deacons back. You know how people signify. And I didn't say anything at first. And I did say to one of them, Well, they haven't asked to come back, you know.


And I'm trying to figure out exactly what-- did I finally make a decision. But I let it be known, I didn't care about them coming back 'cause I didn't put them off in the first place. And yeah, I think I did, at the end of, what was it, at the end of December, I said, yeah, okay, at the end of December if they want to come back and work with me, fine. But I had made up my mind that if they'd come back wasn't any use in me staying there and fighting that battle all over again, although I could have, I'm sure, as I look at it now, if I did it then, I could have done it over.

But I did and they were doing everything they could to cut out, you know, people. Besides, the Lord had had me do my work there. All he wanted to do was to show them that he could get the victory. The Lord doesn't have to keep, he doesn't wham on us, he just overcomes us and then the real work is done, my work was done. And I was conscious.

So, I think it was in either December or early January I came to Birmingham to 00:12:00live. And Motley, who had a church in Mobile, had been called to Bethel Baptist Church. Now look at how God does things. You must not ever leave him out of the equation, because he is the equation. I was waiting on Rev. Hale to call me to come back, so when Motley called I knew he wanted me to come to Mobile and go to-- He said, Fred, say, I've been called to Bethel in Birmingham now, he said, and I can't come, I've got some kind of cold in my chest and I want you to go to Bethel and preach. This was the either the first Sunday in February or the second Sunday in February.

HUNTLEY: What is this, fifty--


HUNTLEY: Fifty-three.

SHUTTLESWORTH: See, fifty-two, my ending at the--

HUNTLEY: Right, that's right.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I said, Okay, I'll go, I said, but I thought I wanted to go, I thought we'd go over-- he said, Well, Hale said he'll get you an appointment, 00:13:00but I need to go up there and I can't go there, so you go, so it was a matter of urgency. And I remember so well. I went there that day and they didn't know me, and I didn't know them. And I preached, what was it, I had it on the end of my tongue, I'll think about it. At any rate, they carried on so to my soul and I was embarrassed, you know. I never considered myself a great preacher, even to this day. It's, Oh! If we'd heard him we never would have called--. And they wanted to talk to me, so I said, No, I can't discuss anything with you, you have a pastor called. Well, give us your address. I said, No, you don't need my address, just ask him, I said, 'cause I don't play with churches and he said he 00:14:00couldn't come and he would be here next week or whatever. And so that's the way I turned it off. And the very next Sunday morning or that week, Motley called me again. He said, Fred, they want you back at Bethel. I said, Motley, now wait a minute, I said, now what are you going to do, I am not going back.

He said, Fool, you don't know, this may be the Lord! I say I don't believe the Lord wants me to play with no church, Motley. I said, I'd better not go. He said, Well, at least go, you'd at least get you something to get you some food with, or groceries were his word. He said and I promise you I won't ask you to go again. I said Okay. I said, I'll go this time, but I'm telling you now I will not go back again. He said, Okay, go on, so can I tell them you're coming? I said, yeah, okay. Man, they were there that Sunday. Church was packed, people 00:15:00were standing up.

HUNTLEY: Word was out.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah. And so, I preached on, over there in Jude, God teaches in an amazing way, where the spirit of God teaches us to deny ungodly, worldly lust, we should present our bodies-- or something like that. And that Sunday was worse than the other one. And I guess I wasn't preaching over twenty minutes. And so, I just had to literally walk out from them, not talk with them. And he said that he would, he told them that he would see them next week, so I said he'll see you next week, so I just left, I was almost rude, really. 'Cause I had no idea that I was with the church, I wasn't thinking about it, my mind was in Florida, see? And hadn't been to Florida. So he was to meet them that Thursday 00:16:00night following that second Sunday, third Sunday, whatever it was, and that night it came up a rain, it was a torrent, it was, it rained so 'til you just couldn't hardly drive, people in the street, I understand, could have to stop. But the church met out there, and Motley sent them a telegram that he could not come, and they called me unanimously in the rain.

HUNTLEY: Is that right?

SHUTTLESWORTH: It was God's appointment. So when I got there, I didn't have to, I didn't have to, I've had some--


SHUTTLESWORTH: -- First Baptist. He said, You don't need to fight, just say what you want to do. But I'm ready to fight, you get in a mood, you, so I went out there and really Bethel is one of the greatest churches except for the one I got now which came out of another fight. Look like it's been mine to fight inside and outside all my life. When I get to Heaven, I'm gone have the crown (laughter). At any rate, when I got there, ain't just unanimous, they were 00:18:00exuberant and so forth. Well, God has problems with preachers sometimes, they get involved in things you don't need to, so you have to fight this person and that person. At any rate, without telling it all, there was a man there who was involved with some woman in the church that the pastor was involved with, and the pastor liked to go off and fish a lot, as I understand, I don't know, that's what they say. And so, he would get up when the pastor would take his chance, and contest him in the church. Where'd you take that text? That text is set on the fires of hell, this and that, that's what I understand. So, Walter Blockley (?) and two or three others said, he gone sure, he gone sure do that. I said, well, let's pray for him and let's hope he doesn't, don't, don't, maybe he 00:19:00won't. But you see, you must remember now, I'm burned in the fire and solid, and I'm still determined not to run over people. So the first Sunday I preached, that's __(?)__, he got up and he said, want to say this, we have a great pastor, blah, blah, blah, we been had preaching like that all the time we'd be somewhere, blah, blah, blah. See, I didn't prompt him. So, the next Sunday, he made comment about the good pastor, we got a good pastor, on fire. So, the third Sunday when I got up, I said, Now, let me say something to the church. The Gospel is to be lived more than commented on. Your comment on the Gospel is your living it. I said, Now, after today, when I preach, it's period. Nobody says 00:20:00anything about it. Said I need no comment to make it good or bad, if it's good, live it, if it's not good, pray for me. Well, that cut him off, see. But the devil is still in a person until it comes up to a crisis, very seldom a person will just take the low and go on, it's amazing, and it's amazing to me how God allows the devil to always challenge him, but he knows himself I guess. So, ____?____, Superintendent of the Sunday School and deacon. And honestly, from March until December that church just went like a fire. And that's '53, well, you know, in '54, the decision. So, but I was still concerned about, even before '54, church being involved in community affairs. So, I was alert that this guy 00:21:00may do something, but I had cut him off, and I thought that would be enough to let him know that I wasn't the kind. So, and this should have let them know the kind of person I was. The same woman who was the mission president, one of the most popular women in the church and the deaconess chairman, in October they were supposed to be getting Women's Day chairman, went to hit, clash about one of them had an umbrella, and the other one had a brick, gone fight. So, I called them both in the church and I said, Well, now you know, y'all fighting in the church, I said, I don't think that's the kind of church the Lord wants. I said, Now, I tell you what I'm gone do, I'm gone get the speaker, neither one of you need to get one. And I said, Now, you, since they know you were gone fight in the church, you also will have to know that you can apologize to the church. And 00:22:00I said, I'm gone ask you, I'm not gone demand, I'm not gone tell you what to do, but I am telling you if you don't do what you're supposed to do, then I'll do what I must. And that means that if you don't get up and apologize toward the church Sunday morning, as pastor I will suspend each one of you before the church before I even take my text. I say, So I'm making it plain, it ain't training you, I hope, but if you Christian, Bible said humble yourself. And you know, amazingly they said, Well, alright. I said, You realize, they said, Yes, we realize. I said, I'll give you a chance to apologize, at least the world will say, if you do wrong, she say, confess your sins-- That Sunday morning, I said, Two sisters, we got two sisters who loved each other so much till they began to express it the wrong way, so these sisters are coming before the church now, 00:23:00express their sorrow for their mis-actions. So, they got up, grown people ain't nothing but grown up children, you know that.

HUNTLEY: (laughing) That's right.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Vivian Duran and Blanche Robinson. And one of them had had involvement you know on both sides. So, then I said, They have something to say. So, they apologized, sort of mealy mouth. I said, No, go ahead and apologize if you're going to. Alright, y'all, why don't you shake hands, so they, I said, No, when you shake hands, you grab hands and grip them, I said, I don't want anybody just put their hand in mine. So, they gripped their hands. I said, Well, then, why don't you just go ahead and hug each other to show folks that we love, that's what, and they did! Now, that ought to show people that you don't take, come up to end of December, as the Lord would have it, and it's amazing how you 00:24:00remember this. There was another young lady, well she was older than I am, older than I was, 'way older than I was, and she was kind of prissy, she walked kind of, and she was, I had said I wanted the choir to march in from the front door, you know how Bethel is built, you been out there.


SHUTTLESWORTH: Coming from the back. And I said, Now, everybody be in the march, don't just switch, and she wants to be switching in like she does every Sunday. And so the second Sunday morning she missed the march, and she come prissing down the row, I walked to the edge of the pulpit and I said, Sit right ___?___. So, she didn't (laughter). I like to burned him up but he didn't say nothing. So last Sunday in December, 1952, the church raised three hundred and some dollars, 00:25:00more than it ever had raised in any one Sunday except the rallies, and we were back in the back, we were getting ready to, and I had appointed a tall lady, I had her name on my mind, she was dark and one of her teeth was kind of awkward, she had a big gap there, and Verta Funderburk, the one that was prissy, they wouldn't work with her, so the program wasn't what it ought to be but it wasn't too bad. And so, after the program I was saying, Now, let's come to the conclusion that I believe that anybody in the church that's too big to work with other folks is too little to lead something. See, that's the position I take in the church, and I hope that we don't have anybody here like that, I hope that we do our best in all, because you don't have but one time to do any one thing, and I'm talking just like, and I'm about finished. And I said, Let's pray hard, so I'm just about ready to close out and go home. All of a sudden he's in the back, 00:26:00he's in the choir, in his robe, and we had worked real good, we had drove into conventions, we had worked real good, it shocked me that he would do that. Well, Pastor, may I say a word? I'm talking. I said, No, sir, you may not. I didn't even look at him. I expected, he said, How come I can't talk? I said, Because I'm talking and you and I can't talk in this church at the same time, never looked back yet. He said, Now, I'm a member here and I'm gone talk. I said, I'm pastor here and you're not gone talk 'cause I'm not gone give you the floor to talk. I said, and I looked back, and I said, Well, now would you kindly, Brother Davis, be seated so I can go on the worship? I said, 'Cause you are interfering. Now, I want to talk, now, I wear my pants, I say, It isn't a question of who wears pants or what pants, the question is that you are out of order and disturbing the service, and the deacons were calling, they were saying, Sit 00:27:00down, Davis! You're out of order, son, now! He said, You little weak fellows, he'd been the bull of the woods, you know. So, I didn't say any more. He stood up there and so, so he just stood up and didn't say anything, for about, oh, I guess about thirty seconds, look like, felt like a minute, but I was gone let him talk. I looked at him and after while he sat down. I said, Now, the church will have to speak on this, we can't have this. I said, I understand this is the routine of the past but the past won't govern the future. So, I felt sorry for him 'cause see he had been one of the most avid workers with me, go to the Sunday School convention.

HUNTLEY: What caused him to do this at this point?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, things building up, number one, he couldn't get up enough to make comment, whenever--

HUNTLEY: That's what he was used to doing.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Don't care what the church was doing, if he'd know the pastor was taking a text and he'd get up. And then he was involved with two of the women 00:28:00that was involved, the little prissy one and plus this Vivian Duran, and the pastor was involved also with Vivian Duran, as I understand, I don't-- So, after dismission, we'd always go back in the back and sort of say what you do with the money, and I remember saying to him, Brother Davis, you interfered with the ministry tonight and I'll have to, come see me and we'll talk about that. He said, You said too much. I said, Not up to you to tell me what to say nor how much. Well, anything hurt me I'll speak out. I said, That sound like a woman, we don't have no women on the deacon board, see. I said, But anyway, you come see me this week. Now it was my idea to let him come into understanding, try to 00:29:00explain what he'd been doing and how much out or order, and I was just gone let him get up and say a few words to the church next Sunday morning and forget it. But he's a big man, see, he just is swelled up, so he didn't come. I said, Now be sure to see me after we finish this, I said, Brother Davis, be sure, I'll be expecting to see you this week. So, he didn't come, he told her, No, I ain't going. So next Sunday morning I got up and read a brief writing I had written over, and I took him out of all of his offices, and boy, this girl, this Funderburk, the old I told you, prissy, she was in the choir. She was just, Oh, Jesus! Oh, Lord! I said to myself, The Lord is squeezing the hell out of that lemon. (Laughter) Well, it had to be. But, so he didn't, so, and I had appointed the assistant superintendent to take over that next Sunday morning. And I got word, he was gone be, I didn't go to Sunday School every Sunday, but I just went 00:30:00over there that Sunday morning, and he came with all his books and things, sat down right by me, I really felt sorry for him, you know, felt sorry that he hadn't done it. He didn't try, so Robert Turner got up and carried through with the Sunday School just like everybody else 'cause if he had ___?___ I was gone tell him to sit down, but he didn't try anything.

HUNTLEY: And he was superintendent of Sunday School?

SHUTTLESWORTH: He was superintendent of Sunday School and a deacon in the church. But I took him out of it. So, this was a week later, see. So, this week he comes to me, after (inaudible). And he said, I said, Well, why didn't you come last week? Well, I, I, I said, No, you don't really have no excuse, so don't try to make up one. I said, You were too big to come, weren't you? I said, so you forced me to do what I had to do. I said, My job, and then I read Jeremiah where it says, Pull down, destroy, tear down, build. I said, that's 00:31:00what, I said, You're full of hot air balloon and I puncture balloons, that's my job. I said, Now, I haven't done nothing personally to you, I just had to let you know that you ain't God, and people, you been a big bull of the woods in church, there ain't no bulls and bears in church. He said, Yeah, I recognize, and I realize you the pastor and all of us are servants. I said, No, all of us are equals, we have different jobs. And I said, I wish you had come last Sunday 'cause I hate I had to do what I did, 'cause we been working together, you been acting like a Christian, but you were a devil under, with sheep's clothes, I said, So I had to unfrock that. Yeah, well, you were right, I was wrong. I said, So now you admit you were wrong. Yeah. I said, Well, I don't want to pressure you, I said, I can't make any promises to you. I said, I wish you had done it last week and I wouldn't have had to do, I said, But I'll go ahead and pray over whatever is to be done, and I said, I won't make you any promises. I already 00:32:00knew I was gone put him back later on, but maybe not the next Sunday. (inaudible sentence). So then during the week, Brother Charlie Watson, my fondest memories is of him, his skin as smooth as any woman, you see, didn't have but one tooth, smoke cigars, laugh all the time. And he would almost do anything for me, he said, Reverend, he say, He's hurting so bad. He said, You know, I wouldn't ever tell you what to do, he said, But if you can find possibly to let him know you might restore him, he said, And I'll make the motion if he does, I said, No, if I put him back, I'm gone fix it so nobody has to make a motion, I said, No, no, no, we don't go through this same thing over, I said, If I ever put him back, and I won't even promise you that I'm going do that, he said, Well, I understand 00:33:00it. I said, But if I do it will so that if he does anything he's automatically not only out of the deacon, but he's voted out the church, without the, take a vote on that, don't have to vote on him no more. He said, Okay, whatever you do, he said, I, I say I tell you what you do, you pray over it, pray for him, and pray for me. So, I had already known I was gone put him back, so that Sunday morning I never will forget. He's in his black robe and back in the choir behind me, same place he was when he got up. And before I preached, I said, Brother Davis, I'm going to give Brother Davis one minute to come to the floor and make a statement to the church and to the pastor, and upon the basis of what he does I will have a recommendation to the church. So, and I almost shed tears, when he came down he took out his watch so he could be sure he didn't go over. And I 00:34:00really felt sorry for him. And he took out his watch in his hand, was looking at his watch, he said, Well, I want to apologize to the church and the pastor, I realize I was wrong and I realized I didn't have to say all what I said and did but I was wrong. And I want the church to forgive me and I want the pastor to forgive me, I promise, and I said, Now, Brother Davis, do you understand what you do, I said, 'Cause there's always a temptation to go back and do over again. I said, You just did for me what you'd been doing, but the other pastor didn't have to put up with that, see. I said, You'll do it again if you follow the devil. I said, But I want you to say that, I say, And you must understand that now before you do anything else, if you do it again you won't have the opportunity to do it again, see, 'cause my recommendation is that the church accept your apology and vote you back into your position with the understanding 00:35:00that if you do the same thing again, you are not only out of office but you are voted out of the church, I said, Do you understand that? I said, That means we won't vote on you no more. You accept that? Yeah. I said, Alright, need a motion. Just like that, see. Went back up in the stands. I never had no more trouble out of him until I got ready to leave the church. Then that's a story in itself. Well, that's the biggest thing, but that church went on and I got in civil rights, we got--

HUNTLEY: Let me ask you before we get into that because, think we may do that a little bit later. But when you got to Collegeville, what kind of community was it?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Complacent community, accepting segregation as it is, there were 00:36:00a lot of dives and dens, liquor dens and things around, and police operated a lot of them. Trains blocked traffic, still do some now, but any time you'd go anywhere it'd be blocked a half hour. I remember once we were at Trinity Church, right across the railroad, and the police was trying to get through and the train stood there a half hour, building burned down. There was no communication between Negroes and City Hall except pimps of Bull Connor, I think, and we had a lot of ditches, uncovered, and it was, but you know God has people, God gets people ready, and we don't know it, see, we be ready. That Scripture in Hebrew where it says, God moves at sundry times, periodically. He does, and He has to find a person. I always say God has to give his contracts for work to people who 00:37:00got faith, that is, people who will exercise their belief by acting on it. It gets into trust, three steps, belief, faith and trust. That's where Paul got when he said, I am persuaded, nothing, you know.

HUNTLEY: Uh-uhh.

SHUTTLESWORTH: And so, I went there with zeal, I had no inkling that the Civil Rights Movement was coming, I had no, I didn't ask for that.

HUNTLEY: But now although you had gone through some fiery storms--


HUNTLEY: in your churches.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, and went through a lot more in Revelation, now you talk about some tough stuff, that was, but go ahead.

HUNTLEY: What about your relationship throughout all this period with white people? The only one that you mentioned, really, was the old man that owned the 00:38:00church and you needed to pay, you made that agreement with him. Did you have any problems with whites or with police prior to coming to Birmingham?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I didn't have a lot of relationship with white people. I worked in a man's field up Edwards Lake where I was talking about, hoeing,

HUNTLEY: When you lived--

SHUTTLESWORTH: Two or three days I worked up there. And I remembered Newt Hubbard, had a one _____ leg, was the constable who put my brother and me in jail after my father died, and they listed for distillery but we wasn't distilling, the worm, coil and condense was on the property.


HUNTLEY: But that had never happened to your father, to Mr. Shuttlesworth.


HUNTLEY: Did he pay the police off?


HUNTLEY: Yeah, I mean before that, why didn't they not--

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, they never catch him. You know I got some interesting anecdotes, if I tell you one, you'd laugh. My father would get up and run the liquor off before day in the morning. And this is one time, and it look like it be so cold, the side of our house that I slept on was as high as these lights, higher, nearly 'bout high as the ceiling. And that floor would be so cold. My papa, he'd get up and get ready to get the mash and take it and put it in the vat and burn fire you know and so forth, hoping the police wouldn't catch us. And we had a, we had a, and he was rushing me you know, probably cursing, come 00:40:00on, dammit! -- that's like him. He had a skull cap on, I never will forget it. I'm gone run tonight! That means he'll run his liquor. And I never could be fast enough for him, so it happened that this night that it had sort of drizzled rain, and it was cold enough for the rain to make ice on the boards and things, and we had a board across a (laughs), and went out past the hog pens, we had two boards across a stream. And when you walk into a path long enough, it becomes wide, water there, so we had these boards across it. (Laughs). He didn't know it was ice, Papa was very, come on now, dammit, I'm 'bout to run! And so, he went on and hit that, stepped on that ice, broke through the ice into water, and he got up and said some words that I don't want to repeat. (Laughing) But he did say, Damned if I'll run tonight! And Mama was laughing, and I was too! Made a 00:41:00big fire, to stand before the fire. But this is what he did, you know. He was consistent, I guess, at what he was and what he did.

HUNTLEY: Right, yeah. So, but he was never, he was never caught by the police.

SHUTTLESWORTH: He went to jail twice. The only time I remember my stepfather going to church was at right after or before he would have been in jail. And I don't know whether they actually caught him or not, 'cause I was never caught with him.


SHUTTLESWORTH: For some reason he went to jail, I remember him going to jail twice in those years, from the time I was three or four up to eighteen.

HUNTLEY: Right. So, you had to help him with that, with making the liquor.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Oh, yeah, we'd get a tub and he'd, see you put the barrel in the ground and you put your rye and other stuff and it'd ferment, yeast and stuff, and we'd dip it out and carry it and put it in a drum and heat the drum, and the 00:42:00steam comes off the hot water and comes through, and the worm is the thing where, and as it goes through it cold water it distills into liquid. Yeah. And you know, I could have made liquor, I could have been a great liquor maker. And, I thank God another side of my life, I never tried to like it. Now I taste it two or three times, it would always do me like medicine, so I never have had a taste for it.

HUNTLEY: Hm, hmm. So, when you and your brother then were arrested, what were the circumstances of that?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Papa had died. Oh, I guess we had buried him about, within the space of three months, maybe it was a month, as I recall now. And the people who lived right above us, they had also made liquor, beside us fields (?). And we kept the one on the edge of our line right under some bushes, like. And Mama 00:43:00thinks that they turned us up, that they called, but anyway, Newt Hubbard, Newton Hubbard, the deputy sheriff, came, he lived over in Oxmoor, right in front of Gooden's store up on that hill up there. And he was standing up there, and I didn't know, I was a youngster, me and my brother, Come here Fred and Gene. Mama was there. If I had known like I did now, but I was a kid. (unintelligible) I should have been on other things if I had known. I wasn't savvy.

HUNTLEY: Right, right.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I would never have known, but he went and picked it up, so he took us to jail for, for that. My brother was younger than I am, he's five years younger, so he went to juvenile and I went into court 'cause I was eighteen. I was over eighteen. My father died when I was eighteen, he was dead. So, he took the worm and got us for distillery, we weren't distilling. But at that time the 00:44:00system could make a case and do now, the system does now, make cases out of anything. We were no more distilling than you are.

HUNTLEY: It just happened to have been on your property.

SHUTTLESWORTH: The coil was on the edge of our property.

HUNTLEY: So, you think that there is a possibility that somebody--

SHUTTLESWORTH: It's a strange, ask Mama, I don't know why. Look like she should have been the one. But that's the way it was. You know, in the record of the, they had this Klan paper, you remember, Wizard, or Fire-something, years ago, and they put in, 'way back when I first started the Civil Rights thing, that I was a distiller. (Laughter.)

HUNTLEY: Is that right?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Oh, yeah, that was in there, the Klan knows about you, you know.

HUNTLEY: So, they had checked your background.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Checked my background, yeah.

HUNTLEY: Well, Fred, at what point did you register to vote?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I was in Mobile, Alabama. John L. LeFlor was the Negro who 00:45:00agitated for voting and this and that. Think he belonged to Stoner Street Baptist Church, and as I told you, people who met me could see something in me that I guess I didn't know myself, for he told me, You ought to vote. I don't know how I met him, I think I met him through Harold, one of my friends who was driving a truck too, and I went to a meeting and I met him, and I always admired people who stood for something, it's just been a--

HUNTLEY: Was this during the time when you left here going there to work

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, I was in Mobile

HUNTLEY: And you were working at the air base?

SHUTTLESWORTH: At the airbase. And it would be some type community meeting, it could have been a Sunday or something, but I met him, and I told him I was interested so he got me or caused me to register in Mobile. So, I registered in, 00:46:00it would have been in forty-four or five.

HUNTLEY: So, when you came back to Birmingham, you were already registered to vote.


HUNTLEY: So, you didn't have to re-register.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I had to re-register here in Birmingham as I recall.


SHUTTLESWORTH: See, you vote by districts.

HUNTLEY: Districts, right.

SHUTTLESWORTH: See, so I wouldn't have had to register here, I would have had to transfer, only way I could have registered in Jefferson County, it's unclear to me at the moment, I can do some thinking, I've been through so many things and so many detailed things till sometimes you forget how you do, but I would have had to register in Jefferson County.

HUNTLEY: But you don't remember right off hand what those circumstances were?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I really don't. I remember getting a lot of others registered though.

HUNTLEY: Right. Yeah. So, you actually now worked with the NAACP.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Oh, yes. A little bit in Mobile, as when I met LeFlor. I was 00:47:00always moved by the character of people who try to __?__. And somehow or another I had the basic understanding that the system wasn't right. It may be strange, you know, most people who talk to me would have expected that given my history now, I would have done something terrible way back there, killed somebody or blown up a house or something, but you see, God has everything in his own time. I accepted segregation as a way of life, I never thought it was right. I never thought anybody was superior to me, I have been inferior in my mind. But I knew that the law said that. Just like when Newt Hubbard was, see I recognized him as the law, so had I talked to Mama first and she said don't tell him, I wouldn't have, but I was immature. But I always believed in my core that segregation was 00:48:00wrong. Even the people in Mobile that were so nice and influenced me to come to the Corinthian Church, they had white folks they worked for, and I could see the difference, you know, white people were-- And somewhere in my -- _?__ about my conscience for white people -- believe it was Joe that drove the bus, killed a Black man, Negroes we called ourselves then, and Joe's only character witness in the court, 'cause we went there 'cause we (unintelligible) bus drivers, you know, was a white woman who got up and said Joe was a good nigger. And he got off.

HUNTLEY: Where was this?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Here in Jefferson County.

HUNTLEY: Mm, okay. He got off based upon her testimony. He was a good nigger.

SHUTTLESWORTH: He was a good nigger. And then, see now, I did work, I didn't 00:49:00work a lot around white folks. I think I worked ___?___ when I was a boy. My aunt, my mother's sister, had a son the same age I was, and said to my, man named Marshburn, it's amazing how you keep all those, Marshburn, so I worked over around his place two or three times, I very much liked, but I didn't went there that much. And I remember that other boys, like John Lewis, and Prentiss (?) and all the others, but we were basically accepted the subservience to the white power structure, and we knew that the system, we knew that with the system, white man was up there and we were down here. And people ask me, say, well, why didn't you make up your mind to disobey back then? The only answer I 00:50:00can give out even now is, in God's own time He does things. And He does it at a time when all circumstances, you know, according to what I -- I should have been dead four or five times here in Birmingham but lived to serve (?).

HUNTLEY: You were saying that you knew the hierarchy of race.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Hierarchy, yeah.

HUNTLEY: White folks were here and the Black folks were here. But it appeared that you're also saying that you never internalized that.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I never internalized that the white people were superior to or better than Negroes. Of course, I was brought up in the Negro tradition, we did some things that were different from whites and so forth. And then, one of the 00:51:00things I think way back in there, you realize that Black folk couldn't look at white women too much, and even in Mobile, as it comes to mind, I remember, I always have been sorry, it's amazing that I hadn't done something and jumped over and got killed before God got me into this, but He-- I remember a guy, I was driving a truck, and they had a man in a led (?) squad of Negroes doing this common work, and he would just take his foot and kick them in the behind.

HUNTLEY: White man.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Mr. Pepper, yeah. So I'm driving a truck and I see him do that two or three times, and it just something moved me to say to him, Now Mr. Pepper, I don't really understand why white people have to feel better to kick Negroes, and I've seen you do that, I say, but I hope you will never kick me. I say, I just hope it never comes to that, cause I don't know what I would do. I'm 00:52:00sure I wouldn't take it and smile like they do. Brother Preacher, you know I wouldn't kick you (inaudible). On the government job. Another tall fellow, nice, and people would talk, Preacher So-and-So! They liked to talk to me. You know in Mississippi where I come from, he said, I think he said Nigras, that was a good word, Nigras pass through (inaudible) hat when they get to the edge of town and won't put it back on til they get to the other. I said, Well, I'm glad I didn't live there because I would not have taken off my hat. You won't believe it! And the closest thing I came to getting fired in the government job, and I've always crusaded for people, as I recall. The captain under the military, had civilians, 00:53:00and the man who was over this part of the work, he was, his salary was making about twenty-five dollars a day. And these Negroes on the job, some with six or eight kids, were making about five or something like that, less. And I didn't know at that time you can't lead folks to strike on a government job. And I didn't lead them to striking but I just took them, __?__ and Buck to the captain and talked to him. Well the captain, he just treated me like he appreciated me bringing them up. And he called my foreman. And so, my foreman told me, said, say Rev, he called me, said, Come in here Rev. He said, You know you can't teach folks to strike on a government job. I said, I didn't tell them to strike, I 00:54:00said but you know yourself it ain't right 'cause you make more money than the average person here, I said but it ain't right when we have all them children. He said, Well, I understand, Preacher, I'll tell you what you do. See how God, here's another thing about God. He said, he don't want you back in there assessing (?), but what you do, you come in here every Sunday morning, every morning and check in so I'll know you're here then go on back home. I was off, getting my pay, for at least three weeks before I started driving back, just go in at __(?)__, and go back home. And then it was during that time when I started driving back that they was tearing off all this stuff, tearing these houses, got a truck and hauled to my house to enlarge my house. Everything. And I guess that comes from that Scripture that says, All things work together for good for them 00:55:00that love the Lord. You don't know you love Him and you don't know how much or how less you do, 'cause none of us loves Him enough, when you think about it. But things just come to happen.

HUNTLEY: It appeared, then, that you had a certain respect--

SHUTTLESWORTH: I had respect.

HUNTLEY: -- that white people wouldn't cross a certain line with you.


HUNTLEY: Was it because you were a preacher or because of something else?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, I was respectful, but I recognized I was the same as other people. They respected me because I was a preacher, yes, I must accept, I think I did get a little bit more respect, that's why I could advocate. See, I always believed in advocating for people who were left down or had less, and I do it now. I think one thing (inaudible), we got to give poor people work, provide 00:56:00help so they can work and take care of their bills, you not supposed to pay more for daycare than you make for work, it's something else, but I realize, you have go to advocate.

HUNTLEY: So, you've always been an advocate.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I've always been an advocate.

HUNTLEY: Especially for the underdog.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, and I've always respected the law. And I've always been in disagreement with segregation. But I recognized that I'm in this system. And I always felt like this that sometimes, they said God's gone __(?)__ Zion's __(?)__. In Numbers, they have, they have-- And you know another thing, come to think of it, I've heard Negroes, we have a way of kind of easing our consciences, we realize the white man was so bad, and I hear Black men talking, 00:57:00be talking about what white people do and white men, and one man said one time, said, a white man got to go to hell if he don't stay but a minute. (Laughter) He felt good just saying that, that God is going to equalize someday, all that we've said has a kind of an epic forward thrust, that you'll reap what you sow, and maybe I can't make you do it now, but I've always felt that God's tomorrow has to be better than today, or yesterday.

HUNTLEY: You have really enlightened me on that whole part of your life that I was just convinced that sort of set the tone for what you were going to be doing when you came to Bethel.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, yes. In other words, when I got to Bethel, I had gone through enough that I could be, I could know somebody didn't like me, but I 00:58:00didn't have to dislike him. And I could speak straight, always respecting that person's humanity or manhood or womanhood or what. But I've never said what I didn't mean, I wouldn't do that now, see, I tell people, you hear me speak, my yea is yea and my nay is nay, and I've got a hell nay. And I think people ought to be positive, you don't have to be brutal, I say, Okay, I'm brutal and frank. Some people are turned off, I must admit this, but I'm also conscious from my own experience that God will have enough people with you to do what you need to do, and will give you enough resources with which to succeed if you want to 00:59:00succeed. I guess our main thing is the center of our, where are we going. In this ________ that the system has so disillusioned so many people, especially Black people, and some white people, that they wouldn't care if this country burned down. And yet we have got to realize that life itself is sacred, that we are put here for something, we aren't to (inaudible) and destroy our own selves. The Lord came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (One handclap on "life" and one on "more".) So that's the way I feel, and I'll be seventy-five years old if I live to see March, March eighteen, and I didn't expect to get forty years, but I'm as committed now to trying to do things without violence 01:00:00(inaudible) as I was then. And you haven't asked me, but people do ask, have asked me, would you do it all over again. Given the same ways, having the same drive, and having the same belief that you can't lose if you're working for Christ, I'd do it all the same way, I'd go through the same thing.

HUNTLEY: The same thing, hm-hmm.

SHUTTLESWORTH: And you haven't heard, you don't know what I felt and heard understanding the bombing, I guess that will come later. Or in the fire hosing or the march.

HUNTLEY: This is just very revealing, and I want to give you a rest right now.



HUNTLEY: Then we'll get back into it.



HUNTLEY: You came to Bethel in 1953.


HUNTLEY: 1954 was a monumental year because of Brown vs. Board.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Supreme Court decision (inaudible).

HUNTLEY: What do you remember about that particular time?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I can't tell you what it did to and for me personally, except it was almost like a new baptism of faith or a new conversion or something, that the Court had declared segregation in schools unconstitutional, that was the biggest thing that had happened to Negroes almost since emancipation. We thought that that decision itself would do a lot for attitude, but it resulted in 01:02:00hardening the attitude of the Southern states. I remember walking on nineteenth street in front of the old post office building. When I saw that, I can't tell you exactly what it did for me, and I'm sure it had the same effect on most Negroes. It give us hope that if we-- and those who had felt that it was no need to strive, I think that it did something to them too. It didn't waken in me any new thing. I already felt basically segregation -- I knew it was wrong. This was a confirmation by the highest court in the land and I thought that the Supreme Court decision actually would have meant more than it did directly.


HUNTLEY: Did you think it would at that particular time, you were really enamored about the possibilities as the result of the highest court in the land making this decision.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Right, right. I was enamored over the idea that the highest court had done it, we are a law-abiding people, and so, segregation has got to begin moving. Instead, as you know, there would be, all the officials of the Southern states were allowed to get away with ideas of interposition and nullification. And with the latent Klan activity and the Klan mentality and the abhorrence in most white people's mind of Black folks being equally the same as they were, even though they might not have personally done things against Blacks. But I 01:04:00think that most white people felt as if they were better than Black people.

HUNTLEY: We understood what the Klan meant at that time. By the same token, there were some who were more sophisticated who developed an organization called the White Citizens Council.

SHUTTLESWORTH: White Citizens Councils, the John Birch Society and all this kind of stuff.


SHUTTLESWORTH: And even like now we talk about racism, it's just a sophisticated word for segregation in my mind. And there was time given by the Court, came in '55 talking about gradualism, didn't it?

HUNTLEY: Right, right, with all deliberate speed.

SHUTTLESWORTH: All deliberate speed, but it didn't order anything done. And those few years caused much more suffering than would have been had the Court mandated that the lower courts see to its order being carried out, even if they 01:05:00had just made a beginning.

HUNTLEY: It was really similar to the Emancipation Proclamation when it was signed in 1863.


HUNTLEY: Because it really didn't free any Black people until, you know, the --


HUNTLEY: That's right, two years later.

SHUTTLESWORTH: And each time, just as the carpetbaggers and other things took advantage then, these segregationists were allowed, because, you see, the Southern senators, they had seniority in Congress and everything, so that I don't really think the Supreme Court anticipated the resistance that it did nor the fact that there would take troops. But you know there is a justice that underlies, there's a justice, a line that underlies all we do. Abraham Lincoln 01:06:00said it when, something on that order when he says he hated the war had to come, but if God wills it that the war continues (?), with every drop of blood drawn by the sword -- by the lash! -- somebody whipping Black folks -- shall be repaid in kind by one drawn by the sword -- whites killing whites, even so it must be said that the judgments of the Lord -- that's in Psalms -- are true and righteous altogether. So, you're going to reap what you sow. And the hardening, the resistance, and it's still in one sense being moved now. We talk as if we're going forward and yet there's always resistance, even in the very best of our politicians and so forth, to do no more than you have to do. And I think that 01:07:00has been a disservice to the country. But just the fact that it spoke that, it couldn't go back on it.

HUNTLEY: We know that as a result of the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision, there was a lot of defiance.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, that's what I'm saying.

HUNTLEY: What, though, was the mood of Black folk? What did that do for Black folk at that particular time?

SHUTTLESWORTH: You mean the decision or the defiance?

HUNTLEY: The decision. There was an action and reactions from both sides.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, for those who were leading in the Movement, like myself and others, the old NAACP people all over, that was really plodding along the legal lines, hopefully persuasion and legal persuasion -- it meant a whole lot. It meant everything. To the average Black, Negro person at that time we called 01:08:00ourselves, I think it had a liftening effect, but it didn't always mean that because you feel better, you shout. But I don't think it had any dereliction effect among Blacks. I think all Blacks basically wanted to be better off or equal to, and I think many Blacks, like they do now, look for other folks to lead, whether they follow or not, they still look for people up front to lead, whether they criticize them or not. For me, it was forward march, full speed, and now we've got the legal background, go ahead. And I think that's one of the emphases I had, that some people even see me reading that Book, they didn't 01:09:00understand. Yes, I did consider my moving forward as a mandate from God, I still do. I never changed that.

HUNTLEY: In '53, '54, were you active then with the NAACP?


HUNTLEY: And what were you doing them, what was your position?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I wasn't in an official position. I would meet with-- I was always moved to talk with Shores-- I was on the Board of the local NAACP, see? Gwen, Lucinda Roby, crippled man -- Ryals, J. J. Ryals, and, oh, I don't know, some others. Shores was a member, but he was a lawyer basically, and timid, and there were several others I don't remember.


HUNTLEY: The emphasis at that time was voting?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Voting and appealing to people to be concerned about whatever elections were had, maybe your little bit could sway it one way or another. And generally, just to talk to people about integrity and other things as they always have. But I was on the Board, yes, I was active member with the NAACP when it was outlawed, in fact I was Membership Chairman.

HUNTLEY: Okay. Now prior to that, though, the Montgomery bus boycott took place, in 1955. Were you active in that?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, we were there the first night. It met at Holt Street. We went down. We established liaison with Martin Luther King and Ralph, and others. 01:11:00And we went down continuously to sort of give our support to their leadership. We were in it from the start.

HUNTLEY: When did you first meet Martin Luther King?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I've been trying to figure out was it here or somewhere else, but I remember my first-- one of the first meetings I had with him was here in Birmingham. He had come to attend some affair here, and I believe it was, I'm not sure it was Jim Dombrowski, but it was somebody who had been working with Southern Conference who had arranged with somebody else for me to be in contact, because at this time, Southern Conference Education Fund was red-baited, you know.


SHUTTLESWORTH: And I'm not sure that Martin would have at that time wanted to be 01:12:00identified. But anybody could meet him as a visitor. And in our interview you will probably want to talk about how we got civil rights and civil liberties combined because it was largely through me that it happened. But I met him, and I was impressed with him. I'm never awed with anybody's personality; I realize all people are people. At this time -- maybe Emory Jackson had something to do with it because he was enthralled with the fact that he had a Ph. D. At that time, if a Negro had a Masters, he was good, was considered quite a bit. Now it might have been through Emory Jackson's effort that I first met Martin.

HUNTLEY: Right. The Montgomery bus boycott is termed as sort of igniting the 01:13:00Movement in the South, particularly the career of King.


HUNTLEY: And you were saying that people from Birmingham --


HUNTLEY: -- going down to assist in that encounter. Now, were there any efforts to keep people from Birmingham and from other places from participating in that by the police? Did they know that you were coming down, back and forth? 'Cause you didn't have the interstates at the time, you had some--

SHUTTLESWORTH: We did not have the interstates, and at that time the lines were not tapped as much as they were later on -- every time I picked up the line I could hear what was going on in the police department or the fire department. One time I got a four-way hook-up which we'll talk about. There were some terrible things going on. But there was one (inaudible) after we had begun getting together, calling for a coordination of our effort, which turned into 01:14:00SCLC, culminated in the SCLC, then the police started to listening in on my line, King's, so that, at the time when I was in jail here -- of course this is later -- King sent some men and he called, and Bull Connor came out there and threatened to arrest him -- he knew they were coming, see. But we cooperated, to answer your question.

HUNTLEY: What was your role at Montgomery? Was there a specific role that you played? I knew you did a lot of speaking.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, that was, at first, more, and then they appreciated any advice and ideas we would have. And you must remember that there was a national kind of a thing, a national spotlight, so there were people from the (inaudible) talking with King, that's how King got to be the national spokesman in a sense. 01:15:00And there's nothing wrong with that. I think he took in a lot of people's advice. They were real appreciative of what happened from Birmingham as such.

HUNTLEY: In terms of the -- I know one of the issues that was paramount at Montgomery was that of the use of the automobiles and getting insurance for the automobiles.


HUNTLEY: How did that play to either enhance the Movement or to work against the Movement?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, I'm always honest about what I know about, see, I didn't 01:16:00know as much about the inner workings, but I do know they had people who were outside -- New York and other places -- who were interested in the Movement succeeding. I think they got Lloyd's of London --

HUNTLEY: Right, that's right.

SHUTTLESWORTH: --as I recall, and some others. I only heard about that. I never did know, see the papers and so forth, or-- I wasn't involved in the personal inner workings at first in Montgomery, no.

HUNTLEY: Did you have any dealings with E. D. Nixon? Did you know him well?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I spoke with him several times, and I thought that he was the, in a sense the father and the general of the Movement, because he was head of NAACP.


SHUTTLESWORTH: And he indicated to me that he had groomed Rosa Parks for this job, for this situation, so maybe unbeknowing to Martin and before Martin got there, there was-- the seeds are always planted for goodness and righteousness 01:17:00and justice, you know. Somebody just picks it up here and there.

HUNTLEY: 'Cause it was suggested that Rosa Parks was really not the first one of course to be arrested on the bus.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Right, and I think somebody else had, as I remember Nixon's talk to me, though we were riding the train one night and he explained a lot of things to me, and you know, Nixon was almost unknown, and I used to get on Martin and Ralph about not keeping him before the people, because I believe in people who have contributed ought to be kept before, what they have done.

HUNTLEY: Right, right.

SHUTTLESWORTH: And yet I realize that there are so many people clamoring for Martin and Ralph's attention, even government people. See in the Movement it was a terrific amount of liaison with Washington and trying to get in. And sometimes I would have problems with Martin because he wouldn't listen, even here.



SHUTTLESWORTH: And I had to say, well, now, wait a minute now, you know, Washington, D.C. doesn't run Birmingham.

HUNTLEY: Yeah, I know that's one of the classic controversies that you had with him, but we'll get to that a little bit later.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, yeah. But I think what I'm saying, it's amazing the, at that time, the tremendous amount, of outside presence --

HUNTLEY: Even that early.

SHUTTLESWORTH: That early. And interest. And everybody was hoping and thinking that they had the answer. More than that, everybody thought -- you must remember this -- that segregation could be easily defeated. And this is what most people now, who write about it -- lot of writers, they have their ideas, God bless them -- and even King thought, and I thought, to a lesser degree, that if we just simply point out to the South how you, why have you mistreated the Negroes. For 01:19:00example, when we organized SCLC, we took over the idea of bus desegregation as a thing everybody could do. And we thought that it wouldn't be difficult. And you must remember the slogan that we first used -- to redeem the soul of America. To regain the consciousness or something like that. We think that people would just, in their own souls and hearts, think, now we ought not treat our Blacks so bad, and this and that. But it just doesn't happen that way. And everybody thought segregation, a lot of people of the North, our people who hoped and everything, they had hoped that we could just get together and do a thing and just segregation would die. Uh-uh. No, no, no. It recoiled.

HUNTLEY: When the NAACP was outlawed in the state.


SHUTTLESWORTH: Talking 'bout a great big thing now, go ahead.

HUNTLEY: What did, I mean, what did that say to the world about Alabama?

SHUTTLESWORTH: The segregationists said to the world that Alabama-- You must remember this wasn't just Alabama, it was Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia and others. They were in cahoots, but Alabama is the first on the roll call of states. Alabama had a governor who I think wanted to be first, Patterson at the time I believe it was.


SHUTTLESWORTH: And, so that they wanted to do it first, and did it first, as I understand now from history. And Judge Walter B. Jones would have issued an injunction against the sun if Patterson had asked him.


HUNTLEY: The day that it happened--


HUNTLEY: --that the NAACP was outlawed, what kind of experience was that for you, because as you say you were the membership chairman--

SHUTTLESWORTH: --chairman, and I was going to meet with two or three people, papers were served on me.

HUNTLEY: And that was one of the issues, that you wouldn't give up the membership rolls, right?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, I didn't have to deal with that because I-- membership rolls would have been kept in New York anyway, right? Not in Birmingham.

HUNTLEY: Hm-hmm.

SHUTTLESWORTH: But the injunction was served on us locally, because I think the 01:22:00(inaudible) and others were, they had their headquarters basically here in Birmingham, and the injunction was served. I never will forget that day that little fellow brought all that sheaf of papers, like when it was unloaded it went down to the ground. And he said that we were enjoined. And I said, What do you mean? It means you can't do nothing. I said nothing? He said, Nothing! I said, That's not the destiny of Blacks -- of Negroes. Of course, Mr. Shores, Lucinda Robey and others, we were enjoined from meeting, remember, and from collecting memberships, and, but we secretly met, anyway, got together, a few things, not openly but we met together. I remember Lucinda Robey and J. J. Ryals, man that had the long, (inaudible), and several, few others. But Shores 01:23:00didn't, and Lucinda Robey and I were considered I guess hotheads, because, to me, it was a tragedy to tell us that we couldn't fight for freedom, and also I felt as if the government, the Supreme Court was allowing these people to disobey the law openly, you know, 'cause they had called on folks to defy the law and everything. More than that, at the time NAACP was outlawed, you remember Huddleston, I believe it was, got up on the floor and said something about we got the old goose that laid the golden egg or something, so I said, in my speech I said, well, we're fighting this kind of a plight, you got the goose after she 01:24:00laid the egg, but before you got the goose the goose had laid some eggs and they began to hatch. Mr. Shores in this meeting, I think we met two times, to my recall, and I was a little disturbed that they couldn't come up with a way to do something. Well Mr. Shores, in his legal understanding, say, well now, an injunction is an injunction. He said, and you'll go to jail for violating an injunction. And I said, well, then somebody has to go to jail. Lucinda Robey said, well that's right and I'm one willing and ready to go! I said, well, let's think about what we need to do, so Mr. Shores just counseled like he didn't, he just counseled us that we could go to jail. The injunction meant that you couldn't meet, you couldn't collect memberships, and you couldn't do anything in the name of the NAACP, which to me meant nothing. Mrs. Robey and Riles, several 01:25:00of us met again without Mr. Shores, to figure on exactly if there anything could be done. And the idea was coming into my mind then that somehow or another we gone have to defy. Now Mrs. Robey was just like I was, that's one thing I thank God. She said, that's right, they can't tell us we can't do, that was right down my alley.

HUNTLEY: Right, you got some support in your idea.

SHUTTLESWORTH: So, I said, let's pray over and think it over. God's got to do something. In fact, I knew that God was not going to let those segregationists triumph at this time. And at the very same time, something else began to happen. Things move together, you know, they are disjointed but we, people were calling 01:26:00me up, since I'm membership chairman, and I had gone and made liaison with all of the civic leagues, all over this area, Graysville, all around, even down mid-Alabama.

HUNTLEY: You had developed a network of folk then, around the state.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Right. Around the area.

HUNTLEY: In this area.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Not in Mobile or something like that, or not 'way up in Anniston, but around the county area and part of other counties, Graysville, Dolomite, and people were calling me and all the questions were saying, What can we do? What do we do now? I believe the injunction was issued, or I believe it was served, as I recall, on a Tuesday morning -- Tuesday? Think it was Tuesday, if it wasn't Tuesday it was Thursday, whatever day, May twenty-sixth, and -- think it was a 01:27:00Tuesday -- and every day, from the time it hit the news, I guess I must have gotten, to start off with, fifty calls, then a hundred. What can we do? Take we take up, can we send you a card and you send to New York? I said, well, no, let's hold everything for a while, and don't do anything 'til we clear, and call me back next week and we'll come up with some solution. And this is what I would say to the people who called. Say, we'll have some sort of a solution within two weeks.

HUNTLEY: Now, the NAACP in Bessemer was, did you know Asbury Howard?


HUNTLEY: Did he work closely with you in the development of this?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, we had worked with, he and Miss Helen whatever-her-name-was down there, and this lawyer Hood and the others, but they didn't work with us in 01:28:00developing the Movement.


SHUTTLESWORTH: We had worked with them on some things in Bessemer and others. He was for the injunction. We respected each other. And I believe it was that Saturday morning, that I recall, I knew the answer. I woke up about three o'clock in the morning, sat up straight in the bed, wide awake, and look like something was saying to me, You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. And in my religious background I understand that was God saying to me, But you've got to do something, you've got to get the truth over. I tried to lay back down, but I couldn't sleep, so that mid-morning I had a few preachers I 01:29:00knew would go with me on anything I tried that was right. Rev. Lane, who was at Hargrove (?) Church on the Southside (inaudible), Rev. Pruitt in North Birmingham, and Rev. L. J. Rogers at Shady Grove. I knew those three would go, regardless. I didn't know about Alford, and I knew Herman Stone would go with me. And Phifer. And Nelson Smith. So I said to, I started calling around and I said somebody's got to do something. I said, And I'm thinking about calling a mass meeting. Smith was for it, Lane and Pruitt. I said now, Somebody's got to do it, and if nobody goes with me, I'm going to do it alone, but it looks better if more than one. I say, I'd hate for people to think only one preacher in 01:30:00Birmingham can call a mass meeting or has the courage to do it. Any rate, I must have had five or six interested, it's in that book (inaudible). And I announced the meeting for Tuesday, June fifth. And I remember calling Rev. Alford. Now I could have had the meeting at Bethel. But I have always believed that everything shouldn't have to be in just my church or even just the way I see it. And so, I called Rev. Alford and said to him, told him what I had thought, he said, Yeah, yeah, let's meet at my church, meet at my church. I said, That's good, now it's gone be at Bethel if it can't be anywhere else, knew it could be at Bethel. Meanwhile, Alford, I had asked Alford, myself, Lucinda Roby and a few others, 01:31:00Georgia and Lola Hendricks and some others, we had gotten together and talked about getting a statement of principles. 'Cause I know it's an educational thing and you have to say something that's gone hopefully catch people, so that statement of principles, I had written it out and I asked them for what they think about it, did they have anything they could add to it. You know, it's an amazing thing that God gives you words for that moment that will stand. That's on your thing out there, they can outlaw a movement, but they can't outlaw the will of a people to be free. And I made sure I put in it that the Supreme Court 'way back there had ordered things, but now court-ordered segregation and here 01:32:00we are, something like this. So we called a mass meeting, of course you know the resultant chaos in the press, from Saturday when it hit the press until that Tuesday, every fifteen minutes, every hour, and of course I knew and I said to all of them there, you have to guard yourself, you have to watch yourself, because there'll be the Ku Klux Klan thing. And I wasn't, I wasn't actually hoping somebody would throw a bomb against my bed, I'm not that stupid. And I knew that you didn't have an adequate defense against the Klan, neither with police help or what we could do ourselves, I knew it. But I depended on God to do it.


SHUTTLESWORTH: And of course, I guess one evidence of the fear would be given 01:33:00where the press would take a picture, a blow-up of me, and look like I'm larger than I am, and much more black than I am. And they'd always, "Rev. F. L. Shuttlesworth, 3191 North Twenty-Ninth Avenue", that was telling the Klan, you know.

HUNTLEY: Where your house was.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah. "-- is calling a meeting of Negroes, blah, blah, blah, blah, for Tuesday night--" And this went on all day Saturday, all night Saturday night, all day Sunday. And Sunday evening about 9:30, Lou Beard, pastor of Fifteenth Street, called me up and told me the Lord told him to tell me to call the meeting off. And you know, as I look back over it now, you almost hate to 01:34:00say these, but this is history.

HUNTLEY: That's right.

SHUTTLESWORTH: And I have never intended to demean any man's name, King nor anything, we had differences, but God was using everybody. And I said, Well, doctor, when did the Lord start sending my messages through you? He said, Well, I'm not afraid of anything, but I just think, I said, You think, or the Lord told you? Yeah, the Lord wanted me to tell you to call it off. I said, Well, I tell you what, doctor, you pray over it, I said, because I think the Lord told me. He said, Alright you pray over it, you pray over it too. I said, Okay, I'll give it some thought. I didn't intend to re-think it. I'm already announced it, how I'm gone re-think?

HUNTLEY: Someone told that story, and said that he told you that the Lord told him to call--

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, I haven't finished it!


HUNTLEY: Oh, okay.

SHUTTLESWORTH: So, at eleven-thirty, the prime news hour when everything (inaudible), he called me back during that time, really, I been praying, 'cause I had told him I was gone pray, you know. And, the Lord really wants you to call that meeting off, but I was in no mood to talk, and I said, Well, doctor, you go back and tell the Lord, if he really wants me to call it off, he's got to come down here himself in person and tell me, and he has to be sure to bring the identifying marks in his hands and his feet and his side, and I just hung up. Because I knew the meeting, and I knew he was nervous, and I knew the Lord didn't use nervous preachers. So, the meeting went on. Rev. Ware didn't like it, and N. W. Whitt, as you know, two of our most outspoken critics. Ware tried to get the Conference to almost go on record against it. And several of the 01:36:00ministers did speak up and say, We ought to do something, my God! Ware said, Well, brethren, just don't say nothing good about it or bad about it, just let it alone and it will die itself these next two or three weeks just like everything else these little Negroes trying to start around here. That was Ware's words! So, I knew then that I wouldn't have an ally in him. But I made it up my mind that I wasn't going to be an enemy to anybody, I wasn't going to contest or challenge preachers, even when they organized the Betterment Association. Went on that night, and you couldn't get to Alford's church. History has that. But Rev. Whitt and Rev. Ware did come, and as the Lord would have it, that night Whitt and Ware wanted to start talking. Whitt was saying, all you little Negroes don't know you gone get yourself killed. And folk wanted to put him out. And I said, No, doctor, now we've come to meet, and you can say 01:37:00what you want to say. You can't, I said, you have to go on and talk now, though, people want you to say what you're going to say. I was in charge. And he went on down to say something about, you know, you gone get killed, and I said, well, maybe the Lord wants some of us to get killed so the others of us can quit being afraid. Not a whole lot, I didn't need to have a lot, I didn't want to embarrass him and I realized the people would have tossed him out anyway. And incidentally we got him and Ware to take up the collection that night, after the, so I gave one of those rip-roaring speeches.

HUNTLEY: The people were ecstatic at that time.

SHUTTLESWORTH: They were ecstatic. They were, just the idea of us meeting, the idea of the state telling them they can't meet. And my thought was, how in the name of God can folk can tell you you can't be free when God made you to be free. And I kept on with that thing, Jesus say you shall know the truth and the 01:38:00truth shall make you free. And it was, every word I said it was just applause. And so, I said now, we're going to have to organize. And we had already gotten the initial thing, the draft to be readied see, to be read. And I asked them three times, because I didn't want them to just jump into something. I said, now what we're getting into, it may cost some lives, it may, it may, none of us may survive, I said, but we have to do something, for our sake and our children. Do you want to organize? They voted to organize. Then we read this thing that we had in our book of our movement 'way back there, the preamble, and what we believed, and our pledge to nonviolence, and they voted on that and I had them vote on it twice, and they elected me president. And I told them in electing me 01:39:00president, that means we gone move, we won't be standing still. And Lucinda B. Robey, bless her heart, I think of her all the time, she developed the word that, The Movement Is Moving, it's supposed to move. And that was our drive. So, we were to challenge segregation in every form we could. And that's why, I'm sure, that I have suffered as much as I have because I believe in challenging on all fronts. And also, I'm not a person who asks other people to do what I won't. I'm a battlefield general, I believe in leading troops to battle. I never asked anybody to go and do what I wouldn't do myself. And I guess when you get to where you really trust and believe in God and depend on him, you go. And I was aware, I must say to you, I was aware that I could get my brains knocked out. I 01:40:00was aware that any day could be my last, but I wanted my last day to be a day on the battlefield for the Lord. And I literally believe that thing -- people are shocked when I tell them I tried to get killed in Birmingham -- but I literally believe that writing in which Jesus said he that loses his life for my sake shall find it. And I recognized I had a family, and it wasn't that I didn't care anymore for them than you care for your family or others, but there was a counterbalancing understanding that even if I cared for them I couldn't protect them if somebody wanted to kill them, so go ahead and commit. Since it is He that keeps thee, He doesn't sleep, see? So that was, I had that understanding. 01:41:00Go ahead, I'm sorry.

HUNTLEY: What did your wife and family feel about your fearlessness?

SHUTTLESWORTH: You'd be surprised. We never sat down and discussed that. They knew me. They knew I never said anything, at church or anywhere else, that I didn't mean, and I think they felt as if God must have been saying something. 'Cause I never backed down, I never sat down and said, Well, wonder if you do this what you 'gone do, I never, that was never--

HUNTLEY: So, your wife never said, You know, you need to slow down a little bit because--

SHUTTLESWORTH: Never, never. You must remember that the day we went down to that terminal station in '57, long time away, she went with me and I didn't have any weapon, nothing.

HUNTLEY: One of the first issues that the Movement dealt with, I think it was 01:42:00the issue of having no Black policemen.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, no Black policemen, and voting, yes, Personnel Department.

HUNTLEY: How did you approach that, what did you decide to do to elevate that issue?

SHUTTLESWORTH: You have to remember that the Police Department under Bull Connor, knew everybody's record or created a record for them. So, you had to get somebody you hoped that was at least aboveboard. And it is God's way of, how shall I say it? Rounding the thing out. Just like when the kids went to those stores, they didn't have to buy anything, but we made them buy a handkerchief just to be sure, 'cause the lawyers would get up in court, What you buy?

HUNTLEY: Right. Covering the bases.



HUNTLEY: So basically, you did the same thing with the issue of the police matter.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah. The young men, I can't recall their names right now, were talked with and we understood, and another thing we had to go again, nobody can really sit down in a moment and figure out all of the things you had to think about and go through back there. You see, we had the problem of Negroes would want to come up and act like they want to do something and then back out, which would have been worse. We were dealing with all of that, and then we had to work with whoever would come up, whether it was schools, integration papers, or (inaudible) as to whether or not they would need protection and so forth and so on, so when you see me walking with Colonel Johnson and others and people like an Armstrong, God gives you people enough. God will see to it that you have 01:44:00enough resources to do. I never had to worry, and I didn't, there were many times I did think about, when I was going off, what was happening back to my family and so forth, but it didn't bother me because I knew they were in the hand of God and I knew I was on a mission for God. So here too we made sure in our own mind that the young men had nothing in their record that could embarrass others, 'cause that's the first thing the press and Bull would do. And I think Dr. McPherson was one of them, wasn't he, in that period?


SHUTTLESWORTH: And I think when Dr. McPherson took that examination, a man with a third-grade education gave it to him I believe, just about what was a quarter of a point or something like that. This just shows you how silly they can be, 01:45:00and Dr. McPherson had at Ph. D.


SHUTTLESWORTH: And it all confirmed my understanding that no matter what you've got, if you're Black, you have to be less than. But the policemen, the voting, we were quite diligent, and we stayed at the voter registering. Here's one thing that I think God blessed me. I had a church and I have a personality that is sort of pushy, I realize that, and so when the press writes about me, I am a dictator, and I was pushy. I'd say, Well, okay, you call me a dictator, say I'm a benevolent dictator, trying to do what's good for us. But I would, on my Sunday morning services, I would call my members' names out, so-and-so, are you 01:46:00registered? I would always call them by their first names. No, I'd say, Well, I'll be by to get you in the morning at such-and-such a time. One of the things I remember so well was I had a real light-skinned woman, she's still living out there, Maude Elms, she's light-skinned, tall, taller than I was, and her husband was real dark, much darker than I am, named Lonnie. So, they were sitting in church one day. And remember, I would put their names up on the board, I was the first church in North Birmingham to register all of his members.

HUNTLEY: Oh, is that right?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah! And I said to my deacons, I said, I don't want y'all wearing these robes out, and the carpet, and can't get up and go vote. You've been watching. One that loved me so well, I got him registered and all. And so, I would just be up in church Sunday morning. I said, Maude, are you registered to vote? She sitting right beside of her husband Lonnie. She said, No, sir. I said Well, alright, I'll be down to get you in the morning, I'll be there by about seven o'clock. She said, Well, don't come that early, Reverend, I (skip in tape)


HUNTLEY: So that was sort of the badge of honor, then.

SHUTTLESWORTH: The badge of honor. And one of the things that I succeeded in doing was getting other churches, especially those close to me, to do a lot of registration, see. Because as you (end of Side 1)

Side 2:

SHUTTLESWORTH: -- old white people, decrepit, old, on a stick, and one man's 01:48:00body was-- first time I ever saw a body look like in a z shape, was a man at the courthouse who ought to been home, retired long ago, but he had a job, and the only Black people I saw in the courthouse were people who mostly swept the floors, not too many of them, and if any Black person wasn't sweeping the floors, or had a piece of paper, he had one that some white man had written something to another one on, he carried that way, and that just didn't set well with me at all, and I had turned the table. So, it's good to go to the courthouse now and see these faces, just even if we went up to lunch while ago, see all those young, Black Negroes, many of them perhaps who never would recognize me, businessmen, how did they get there?

HUNTLEY: They don't know, many of them don't know.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, and what did it take for them to get there? So that's the thing. But it was a thing. And I never was divided in my mind about whether or 01:49:00not to attack segregation.

HUNTLEY: That was never a question in your mind.

SHUTTLESWORTH: It was never a question, all aspects. I think I sent Lola and some of them to the library, and this, and to Midfield, that Kiddieland Park, and all, everything that we could do. And then when the intrastate thing was going on, that's when me and my wife and I went to the Terminal Station, as you know.


SHUTTLESWORTH: (________?________ ) was the first legal suit that the movement filed.

HUNTLEY: Okay. As a result of your tenacity that first year between June and December, by the Christmas season--

SHUTTLESWORTH: This was later than '56. You're talking about '56 now.


HUNTLEY: Fifty-fix, yeah. As a result of that organization, there was an answer to you that Christmas season.


HUNTLEY: Talk about that for a bit.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, you remember from June, the Montgomery lawsuit was filed in '55, see.

HUNTLEY: That's right.

SHUTTLESWORTH: It took it that long to get up to the Supreme Court. In June we started meeting, the first one was a Tuesday night. But I had the understanding that if we were going to really be more effective we had to meet the next night from Sunday so we could get around to all the churches. And so we got a thing going where, in all the churches the Movement would be announced, see, on Monday night, see. And it stayed there for years, we met every Monday night, rain, shine, storms, this and that, It would take a long time to talk about the 01:51:00different types of harassments that the police did, and from different churches, I never did let it meet at no one church, all around, we had a committee to get the churches and so forth.

HUNTLEY: That was done in the first year.

SHUTTLESWORTH: First year, we met regularly.

HUNTLEY: Every Monday.

SHUTTLESWORTH: The police would follow cars, arrest folks, give them tickets. I remember once we met at, as I recall at that time, Rev. Phifer's church was in the middle of the block, but the police would get you by running on a red light, in the middle of the block, anything. But people came on. Unmitigated harassment and so forth. And in '58 it had gotten so that Dr. King came. He was shocked at how I had dealt with the police, we talked about that too, you want to ask, I'm trying not to get it all mixed up--


SHUTTLESWORTH: --because mine is a myriad, long story. We're talking about that first year now.

HUNTLEY: Right. The first bombing.


SHUTTLESWORTH: Right, well, I'm leading up to that.


SHUTTLESWORTH: So, by June, July, August and September, we were so crystallized till the people themselves would move. Emory Jackson did a great job, you know, always pronounced where it would be. That was a help. So, we somehow or another felt, the Supreme Court had heard the case in June, about the time we organized, before that, but their decision didn't come down in June. So, we were expecting it any time after June at the time we first organized. And somehow or another, Nelson Smith and I got wind that the Supreme Court decision on that was coming down. We felt, we knew it was going to be against segregation.

HUNTLEY: This is the bus--?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Bus desegregation, yeah.



SHUTTLESWORTH: We were at the TV station when it came through on the teletype. And so I said to Nelson, you must remember that God activates you, gets you ready to do this moment what will last a generation, I said, now we don't want all the Klansmen to be in Montgomery, see, all over Alabama and the South. I said, let's ask the commissioners to rescind the segregation laws in the light of the Montgomery decision. And we knew that if didn't threaten them they weren't going to do anything anyway. In fact, we knew they weren't going to do it, but we had to threaten them to let them know that something was going to happen if they didn't. So Nelson was for it, and we got the decision, Lola and 01:54:00Georgia and them, Lola would type it up and we got it to the press, all of the press, and so that took some of the heat off Montgomery that here in Birmingham we threaten we gone rise if they don't, you know, that was a big thing.


SHUTTLESWORTH: Incidentally, I'm going to go back and look at some of those headlines. So, we got that done and we knew they weren't going to do it. And we're coming up to Christmas, and I remember that Christmas Eve, churches in that area met, and they met at somebody else's church but this time it was mine to preach. And I remember preaching from the text over in Isaiah, sixth chapter, unto us a child is born, mighty counselor, and I was preaching, I was calling myself swinging out, and I remember saying these words, and I don't know why, I 01:55:00said I expect at some time now any day, some Klansman will throw a stick of dynamite at my house. One stick? Sixteen. That Christmas night, sixteen sticks of dynamite was placed between the church and the house, church was brick and the house was wood, and there was a metal, a cement thing at the bottom so that the implosive effect couldn't go into the brick, but couldn't go down this way into the house, had to go corner of the house -- you got that picture here somewhere haven't you? I think they need to put it up in the library level under my picture so people can see it just wasn't me looking good, it was what you come out of that caused the Movement to go. And the corner of that house was blown off. And I felt the, it was around about nine-something. And my deacon, 01:56:00Charlie Roberson and his wife from down the street, always came to visit us on that Christmas night.

HUNTLEY: Charlie Robinson?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Charlie Roberson, r-o-b-e-r-s-o-n, not i-n. And his wife and my wife and the kids were in the other rooms. So he was sitting beside me in the bed in the corner of the house, just like this thing but up against the wall. And he was sitting right in front of a mirror, that mirror, you know a dresser with a mirror? That mirror was as wide as from here to that corner, well, twice wide as this, and little longer than this, about half again, and so it was a great big mirror on that vanity. And he was sitting right before that, but sitting right by the bed, so we were just in there talking. We been talking like this less than an hour, must been about an hour, hour-and-a-half, about nine-something, 'cause he was just about getting ready to go. And all of a 01:57:00sudden, Whoom! I felt something I never felt, and the lights went out, and I felt such a pressure I never felt before, and I felt the force of something be like driving me back, and yet I understood something that I never, nobody ever told me, I understood, I felt a presence that I can't really identify. And this wall between my head and the dining room, and the corner, was blown off, front part of the front wall was blown past the porch. This wall was blown, was just demolished, and the roof came down I guess, from up there to down here and I'm down, the floor was blown out from under the bed you see, as far as from here to that--

HUNTLEY: You're in the bed.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Laying in the bed, my shorts and undershirt.


HUNTLEY: And your friend was there.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Sitting right by the bed, in front of the vanity. And so, all of this floor in this corner was blown away, so I'm down in where the floor was, lying on the mattress. It would take a long time to describe it, but the, as we found later, the foot of the bed, the bed feet, legs, they had been blown off too, and right in the, as we were gathering up the debris, we found that a sliver of wood from this wall was driven in that bed thing which would have come into my head were it not for that -- where I was lying in the bed, a sliver of wood had been driven through that, sticking through that bed. But more than that, most, many slivers of wood from this wall were stuck in the center wall, 01:59:00now which was holding up the roof. I had a gabardine coat hanging up, somebody had given me a wide fedora gray hat. I couldn't wear either of them anymore. I put them on that night because I didn't have, I had to go out later on, the crowds keep them from getting, but I put the coat on over my, didn't even put a shirt on, but put my coat on and went out.

HUNTLEY: Was your family in the house?

SHUTTLESWORTH: In the other room, right across, like that room that's over there. But that room was holding up, that wall was holding up the what was left of the roof. This floor, part of it had been blown away, had arced up, and some of the planks had gone up into a little heater that we had on there and it was beginning to catch fire and I put that out. And Charlie Robinson was sitting right by the bed, which would have come to about the bed about half way the 02:00:00room, and that mirror that was behind him had been shattered I guess into a million pieces, and he didn't get none of the glass cut, just two or three little knicks of blood. And know what his remark was? Reverend, I guess the Lord saved me 'cause I was with you. It's amazing that the shards of glass would have just, but the glass was shattered, we never did find no large pieces of glass.

HUNTLEY: Just totally shattered.

SHUTTLESWORTH: And you wouldn't believe this, the springs that I was lying on, we never did get no large pieces of springs. It was shattered.

HUNTLEY: Powerful piece.

SHUTTLESWORTH: But I was there laying on the mattress. And in a second I knew what Moses meant when he said underneath thee are the everlasting arms. I never, to smell all that smoke dust from years the house, dynamite mixed with that 02:01:00acrid smoke, so Charlie had gotten out and gone back through, we had to go through that door, couldn't, let me see, the house was leaning kind of this way, so we couldn't go in that door, that door was, so he went out that way. But I took time getting my clothes out and so a crowd began to gather on the outside, I could hear them. Everybody thought I was dead. My wife and children had gone out, so Charlie had gone out this door, this wall that still stood, and, but I took time and put this fire out, because if I hadn't it would have burned down, and I could hear voices out there, the police naturally come. So, I put this coat on and came out, and I could hear James Revis--