Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth (1996) (1 of 5)

BCRI Oral History Collection
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Transcript

HUNTLEY: This is an interview with Rev. Fred Lee Shuttlesworth. I'm Dr. Horace Huntley. We are at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Today's date is December 10, 1996.

Welcome, Rev. Shuttlesworth. It's really just amazing to have you sitting here back in Birmingham talking about the struggle.

SHUTTLESWORTH: No place like Birmingham, my hometown, the place I love more than any other place on the face of the earth.

HUNTLEY: It's just a great opportunity for me to just be sitting here with you because now I have within arm's length, really, the history of the Movement and 00:01:00that is what is so important about being here at the Institute.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, at least a substantial part of it. It was God's purpose that in the evolving of the Movement I would be on the cutting edge. And God prepares people for certain things. Some people do what others won't and to dare, to have faith, to put faith in action, I say it, is what God needed at that particular time, and He knows who to choose.

HUNTLEY: He chose the good person. Before we start into that, let me just get some of your background. I've known you for many years.


HUNTLEY: But I would just like to talk about your early childhood for a minute. Tell me just a bit about your mother and father first. Where were they from?

SHUTTLESWORTH: My mother was born in Montgomery, Alabama, out from Montgomery, 00:02:00Hope Hull, I believe, out from Montgomery. And I was born in Montgomery County too, until I was about three years old when I was brought up here and my mother married Shuttlesworth, so that my name actually is the name of the man who raised me. As my mother said, when you talk about your father, you have to talk about who really raised you, so I always took that, so Shuttlesworth is her married name.

HUNTLEY: And he was from here, in Birmingham?

SHUTTLESWORTH: He's from Birmingham. She met him in Birmingham. Her parents moved from Montgomery to Jefferson County -- they saw they could make a better living way back in the year. I was around about three years old then.

HUNTLEY: Were they farmers?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Farmers? Yes, basically.

HUNTLEY: Did they own their own land?


HUNTLEY: So, were they sharecroppers?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Sharecroppers, I would think. My mother attended the State Normal School down there and so forth.

HUNTLEY: How much of education does she have?

SHUTTLESWORTH: She went to some college. She did a little teaching at that time. 00:03:00She had above a high school, and she was in what they call State Normal. You remember that my mother and my real father never were married, his name was Vetta Green, an itinerant country preacher who fixed guns and was very apt to fix a watch, he could make a watch or anything. And I just met him after I was grown.

HUNTLEY: Oh, is that right?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, he had a little church out from Montgomery there, and I went out and did a revival for him. We knew each other before he died.

HUNTLEY: Did you have a pretty good relationship with him?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, it was short you see. I was grown and pastoring and way up when I knew him.

HUNTLEY: So that was the first time you met him?

SHUTTLESWORTH: The first time I met him I was a grown man. And it is to be said, since we are talking about that, in those days parents exercised a much larger 00:04:00influence over whom their children married than now. My mother and father really wanted to marry, they were crazy about each other, but the parents didn't like him. So, they kept her from, kept her from--

HUNTLEY: Is that right?


HUNTLEY: Do you know anything about his education?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I would think that he had probably less than a high school education. He was just real great at his doing things. I have that gift. I can just do things. I built a house without ever practicing carpentry and I learned mechanics and so forth. But he was real apt at it, although he wasn't a man publicly known except for little church and his circle of people.

And in fact, and I think it's sort of good that we're talking about this, because he never did -- he might have married somebody -- but he just never did become the man that I think he could have been had he been allowed to get married and build a relationship, so he just wandered around, messed around, and 00:05:00never did make too much of his life.

HUNTLEY: I see, yeah.

SHUTTLESWORTH: So sometimes that's to be thought of as people really try to consider their children's future.

HUNTLEY: Were you the only child?

SHUTTLESWORTH: No, no, no. My mother--another sister, my second sister, my sister under me, was also by him. We are the two whole children in my mother's. The rest of them are by Mr. Shuttlesworth. Seven children by him. Nine of us.

HUNTLEY: Nine of you?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, I was the oldest and I caught the most trouble. My mother would beat the devil out of me, and the top ones and the little ones would get in line. So, I caught it both ways.

HUNTLEY: Well, your mother, for that time, was very well educated.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, not with a degree, but she was competent, my mother was competent. She stood for a lot of things, and I can thank God that my mother's 00:06:00parents and she were really religious people. And I thank God for that, at least, in my own life. My mother never did allow me the luxury of being asked whether I wanted to go to church. In fact, she would assist me if I wasn't out of the bed on time by a strap or whip or whatever, and I had to go. And it's amazing. I have always been allured or enamored of the idea of God. When I was a youngster, I didn't rebel against God like... I always wanted to know something about the supernatural. I should also say here, since we're talking, I think I made up early in my life I was either going to be a preacher or doctor.

HUNTLEY: So, you determined that very early?


SHUTTLESWORTH: I always knew that I wanted to be a preacher or a doctor. And of course, this has so happened.

HUNTLEY: So, the preparations then that you were doing as a youngster was actually in preparation for either one or the other.


HUNTLEY: And at what age did you determine that it would be preaching?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, when I was a boy I was always impressed with people who ran revivals in that area. I always looked up to the ministry. And I learn now, myself and all, that nobody's a perfect person, but revival time was a special time. It still ought to be a special time when people come together to think deeply that week or that two weeks or whatever it is, you hear the preaching, you have a knack, for think, of a preacher explaining, expounding as best 00:08:00possible, people from all around, and it was a moving thing to see people, farmers -- mostly we were rural, we worked in the mines and so forth -- come to revival and be talking about God. So that idea was centered in me very early.

And I always thought of God even when I didn't know, understand as I do now -- nobody perfectly understands God -- that He was it and He was all. In fact, the Bible says, "He's all in all." We really don't understand that. I always wanted to know more about Him, and I always had that feeling to want to conform to some relationship with His being.

HUNTLEY: Yes, so it was, really, you basically had no choice.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I had no choice. And then my mother comes from a poor family. My stepfather, Shuttlesworth, had worked in the coal mines. He had had one family. 00:09:00In fact, his, I believe his third child or second child by his first wife was older than my mother. So that he was a much older man than my mother. He was not a religious person basically. Used a lot of foul language, and we were on the welfare. And he, I guess I saw in his authoritarian type abuse of my mother -- she didn't have much. I remember my mother had, I don't think ever had over two dresses at one time. And I learned that she said that you take what you have and make the best out of it. That's a principle I will never forget. I would to God that people now would understand that a person's life isn't consist of what he 00:10:00has. Bible says that. I remember one time -- I don't want to ramble but--

HUNTLEY: Go ahead.

SHUTTLESWORTH: My mother had; I believe it was twenty dollars. We had to walk from Oxmoor over to Wenonah, which was several miles at that time, to the commissary. And on the way there, my mother suddenly discovered that she had lost the money, didn't have it with her. And I was a little boy. You know, it's amazing, children are supposed to pay attention and I did, I was very, always apt, looking forward to that. And she in the middle of the road, just almost undressing, just look, because ten dollars, five dollars, at that time, was...two dollars was life almost. And so, she just suddenly resigned that she didn't have it. And so I looked for her, knowing her being poor and knowing her 00:11:00not having much, I looked for her to start crying and just going berserk.

And she didn't, and I asked her, I said, "Well, you ain't gonna even cry over this?" And she said to me some words like this, "Son, you cannot lose what you never had. You take what you have left and make the best out of it." Now some things are just deep in my culture or my life and I can't forget it. But she was tough, and my mother never -- she went to night school. My stepfather was jealous of her for that. He wouldn't go, but he would, you know, this is...

And yet, so far as doing things of a bad nature, I've never seen one thing to my mother. And that's one thing I can respect to this day and be thankful for her 00:12:00life as I knew it. She didn't have much, but she set a standard for us, and she insisted that we obey. If I got a whipping at school, I got another one at home. People in the community, all of us, could discipline, so Mrs. Clinton has something when she said it takes really a community to raise a child. We need to go back to that.

HUNTLEY: You said there were nine children. How many boys and girls?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Six girls and three boys.

HUNTLEY: And all are still living?

SHUTTLESWORTH: All are still living. And my mother, just as you know, was buried here, right across the street, Sixteenth Street there, in '95. She was 95 years old - would have been in August of 1995.

HUNTLEY: Now, what community did you move into when you initially came to Birmingham?

SHUTTLESWORTH: They moved into a little place, I don't even know where it is 00:13:00now... called Rat Row over here close to Goodwin's Store in that area. If you go out towards Oxmoor Road, Goodwin's Store 'cause it's a little area somewhere in there.

HUNTLEY: Called Rat Row?

SHUTTLESWORTH: That's the little area they were in, and that's where I understand my mother married. I remember my aunt didn't use the word Rat Row. I don't even know where it is. But then my stepfather, Shuttlesworth, had this house, it's a home house now in Oxmoor. He and his friend Haygood (?) had built the only two houses just alike. And so he had this house so when he married her on Rat Row, they moved into that house, and that's where I was raised up, went to school out there.

HUNTLEY: In Oxmoor?


HUNTLEY: What do you remember about your first school?


SHUTTLESWORTH: Seriously, I think my elementary school days and junior high school days, and to some degree, the high school, were some of the formative things. I don't want to be misunderstood, but I was always very apt. I really didn't have to study hard. I always was challenged to see what made things tick and so forth. And I could read, I remember, and I'm getting ahead of myself, when I was in seventh grade, or eighth grade I believe it was, I read a 15-page oration over three times and committed it to memory for Mrs. Owens. I was in the seventh grade this time, but my early education was the old school there going up on Sand Ridge right off the Oxmoor Road, through the curve, around the curve, 00:15:00and you turn left and go up.

HUNTLEY: Was that that old white building, the old wood building, was that the same building?

SHUTTLESWORTH: No, no, no. The one that's there now, the junior high school, that was put there. I was the first class to graduate from there in 1937 in the seventh grade, I believe it was, ninth, whatever. But the old school was just as you turn up that hill, it was just as you turned up between two houses and started on Sand Ridge, it was there. A ditch ran right down beside the school, but there was some days that I will never forget. And I remember my teachers, they had... especially Professor Ramsey, a Christian gentleman, and we went to school with several classes in the same room.

And I well remember a lot of things about Mr. Ramsey. He never feared to 00:16:00discipline those boys. Those boys were older than I was, and some of them louder than he was, but he would use his switch on them. And he-- I believe I was in the sixth grade under him at that time. And some of the boys in the ninth grade would go up to the board and couldn't get a lesson, and I could just see it, you know, and I wanted to do it so bad, and I wondered why he never let me, he never would me get up and show them. I guess--I understand it now. It would have been terrible for somebody down here to show somebody up here. And I understood his wisdom in not allowing me to do this. It helped me a lot into my life, you understand that there are levels and degrees of people's understanding, and 00:17:00maybe some people don't know because they didn't take time to learn, but they are here, they got a point, and nobody particularly needs to be shown up. And I respect him for this to this day. Then at least, and in my early schooling, one of the things that I guess was, is vital and key to my life, we always had song and prayer in the morning. We never did have a school without acknowledging God. Or even into Selma University, when I got up into college after I had married, years later, and gone to work and gone back to school. So people ought to always take time to recognize God. I know sometimes these days people don't want you to use that name, but I never speak without saying what my roots are.

HUNTLEY: What kind of work did Mr. Shuttlesworth do?

SHUTTLESWORTH: It's interesting but the truth is, though, my stepfather had 00:18:00worked in the mine, had worked in the coal mine, but he wasn't working in the mine then. At the time I was with them, he was on the welfare, WPA, and he did work some on the WPA, you know, that's Roosevelt. People had a thing, "Let Jesus lead you, and Roosevelt feed you." And that meant a lot for us. And my stepfather made liquor. He sold liquor, and as I recall now, many people could do much more with what little bit they have if they would conserve.

I remember sometimes people would come to the house -- and this is a boy, now, I'm a boy -- and he would count out money, hundreds of dollars after people had left, you know, buying liquor. But as I recall, he had one bill after he died 00:19:00that he had being paying interest on $5 a month. He had been paying on it for years cause I used to ride my bicycle to Bessemer and pay it. So after he died in 1936 -- no, I'm sorry, 1940, I graduated in '40, I was eighteen -- I said to mama let's pay this fifty -- didn't owe but fifty dollars.

HUNTLEY: Fifty dollars.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, fifty dollars. And I went over and talked with the man for mama, and he said, "Well my goodness, Bill Shuttlesworth has paid this debt over and over," and just wiped it out. Just talking with him about settling a debt and we had been paying on that thing five dollars a month for... So it goes into what we have now, I guess, it's called credit cards. People abuse credit. They don't realize that you don't have to owe a lot. Conserving your own is better than owing somebody else, and that psyche needs to be understood in our 00:20:00generation today.

HUNTLEY: Did your mother work outside of the home?

SHUTTLESWORTH: No, no, no. My mother never worked. We were on welfare as I told you, and of course, I remember riding my bicycle to -- the Welfare Department was on Twenty-Fourth Street, I believe, viaduct, I remember the viaduct area -- and getting the welfare goods. My stepfather, he would get day old bread and a lot of other stuff, it was... We lived, I remember back there when you could buy half a side of a hog for a dollar or two, sack of flour and all this kind of stuff. We learned how to conserve. My mother was very conservative. We never wanted for food.

HUNTLEY: Did you have any animals?


SHUTTLESWORTH: Dogs, cats. I plowed, hoed, went to the field.

HUNTLEY: You had gardens...

SHUTTLESWORTH: We had gardens, we had gardens around the house. And incidentally, you wouldn't believe it but I carried papers, and up where Edgewood is, where those big buildings there now, old factories or something, I threw papers at that far up to the end of the Edgewood Lake, walking, and finally got a bicycle. I carried papers, and different people do-- but I've hoed in the field, and we had, incidentally, a field right there as you go down from that great big church on Oxmoor Road, round in the valley like going to Birmingham. We went down that hill and cut back into the left, and we had rented several acres there, and I plowed the mule, gray, brown, red. My grandfather had a mule, and I did everything.


HUNTLEY: What did you grow?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Corn, 'tatoes, peas, different-- everything.

HUNTLEY: So, during the Depression, what was lifelike?

SHUTTLESWORTH: We never did have a whole lot, but we had enough to live. And people could always find food at our house. Even other people and children and so forth. God blessed us in that, I have never suffered for food.

HUNTLEY: So that era, although it was a depressing time--

SHUTTLESWORTH: It was a Depression Era.

HUNTLEY: you actually had food because you grew your own food?

SHUTTLESWORTH: We grew some of it at least, yes. Hogs, we grew hogs, we killed hogs, chickens, and a certain time we had for hog killing, chitlins, and meat, Mama and them would smoke the meat, and salt it down and so forth. We had, we 00:23:00raised potatoes, I remember putting potatoes in a bank, you know, bank. It was really a regular farming life.

HUNTLEY: Pretty much self-sufficient though?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, self-sufficient. And this area now is within the city limits under Mayor Arrington. This city has done a... but that was in the country then.

HUNTLEY: Oh, yes, yes. But, see I lived in that area too.


HUNTLEY: In Wenonah, Riley, and Over-the-mountain. 'Cause we use to hike and we would camp over there.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I remember, we were talking about schooling, and then when I got in the, what was that, tenth grade I believe, we started going to Ro... we had a bus that carried us.

HUNTLEY: You mean busing was back in that time? Was it a big issue at that time?

SHUTTLESWORTH: No, it wasn't a big issue at all. But, we were Black, who rode the buses, as I recall. I'm trying to-- I don't remember if there were whites. 00:24:00There weren't too many whites in that area, just one or two, in Oxmoor. We went for just a few minutes over in Wenonah, but then they took us out of Wenonah. We weren't over there that long. I remember Mrs. Robert Crawford was the principal, she was tough too, they say. Then we went to Rosedale High School, under Professor Montgomery, so I graduated at age 18, in 1940, from Rosedale, same year my father died, died just a day or two after I got my robe and everything.

HUNTLEY: Is that right? What do you remember about your high school days? Were you active in extracurricular activities?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yes, yes, yes. We rode the bus, typical boy, I get into boyhood fights and things like that, but never no mean-- no knives, no guns. And at that 00:25:00time, if you killed one person, you were marked for life. I remember our bus driver had killed a man. There was always a stigma on you although you liked the man. It's unfortunate now. Murder and violence has become a sort of a normal thing.

But we would ride to school, and Hugh Jackson and I, we carried on a lot of foolishness, we would laugh at anything. We were, for instance, on the bus, like going to school, he would be sitting up front and I'm in the back. We would be talking about kidding some of other kid whose... one of their, Joe Nathan, I believe it was, his father had gone to jail for stealing a cow. And so Hugh Jackson said to me, we were in the front. He said, Fred! Yeah! So and so's daddy went to jail. I said, what did he go for? He said, He picked up a cow with a tail on it.


HUNTLEY: Just always keeping something up?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, but in school, and I respected Dr. Ben Montgomery a lot. I was very apt in school, always through school. Not to take any credit, it just was my gift. Then God had me prepared for the Movement because you see, at one time in the Movement, I could go to the telephone and dial a hundred numbers if I wanted to without looking in the book. If I called your number twice, I could commit it to memory. It was a part of-- what I'm saying is God has somebody for every job, and He especially equips you for that, and I had the apt phrase. I could-- I didn't have to study for words.

Dr. King would wonder and say, how can you say things, I have to think when I'm up there. I said, Well, God prepared it. But at Rosedale, I wanted to always play football. I couldn't catch a baseball, so I never tried too much. At Oxmoor, we had boxing and all this kind of stuff. And I remember, I guess this 00:27:00pulls to my desire to foolheartedness, I always wanted to play football, and they didn't have the uniforms, the gear.

And I would get up in my regular pants and shirt and be tackling folks on the field 'cause I wanted to do it. And how I got togged was, the young man ... this was Rosedale High, named Sawyer, called him Pap Sawyer, was playing one day and got his arm broke in three places tackling, and pulled off his togs on the--, and I picked them up and put them on.

HUNTLEY: That's where you got your togs?

SHUTTLESWORTH: That's how I got my togs and went right on. It didn't affect me that his arm was laying there in a twisted grotesque way. But I had wanted the thing. So, this is it. In high school I made very good marks, actually I never 00:28:00made under a B in school, even in college, but I was the valedictorian in my class. Another young boy named Henry Williams was the salutatorian. In Selma University I was the valedictorian and Autherine Lucy, who went to the University of Alabama, was right behind me. So, I was always up front.

HUNTLEY: Oh, yes, so you've always been a leader then?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, I never sit in the back of a room unless I'm forced to. I always sit up front. I notice there's some kids usually like to go in the back, think the teacher won't call on them, but I always sit up front 'cause I would challenge.

HUNTLEY: Was that because you wanted to be called on?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I wanted to be called on. I wanted to participate. Well, mine is such a long story and I don't know how you want to do this.

HUNTLEY: Well, you just want to talk about it, 'cause I think that's important. 00:29:00That's part of that development, see.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, yeah, okay, so at age 18 or 19, we had this youth thing. I forget what you call it, Y - something, it's on the Y. And I began a new job working at Southern Club, before Southern Club....

HUNTLEY: Was this while you were in high school?

SHUTTLESWORTH: After high school. I was sterilizing needles and things, where the doctors would examine people on welfare to see if they're able to work and so forth. This is where I met Ruby, my girl who I married - the mother of my four children.

HUNTLEY: The two of you were working there?

SHUTTLESWORTH: She began working there, not in the doctor's office. She was doing something else there. I just met her, and I liked her. She could have been 00:30:00a graduate nurse, had another quarter or something, but she didn't want to do that. And I remember walking from the Southern Club on Fifth Avenue I believe it was then, to West End where she lived. Then I rode a bicycle across the mountain to Oxmoor. It was-- then we finally got married in '41.

HUNTLEY: You were then what, 19?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I was 19 when I married, and she was too.

HUNTLEY: Let me ask you, before we talk about that, how did the death of Mr. Shuttlesworth affect the family?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, he had, we call it consumption, basically, but he coughed and spat a lot. But he was a vigorous person up until a few months before he 00:31:00died, before he got real down. We weren't very close 'cause he was very hard, and my cousin who was born with me in Montgomery -- my mother had a sister and she had a son -- we both were born in the same room in Mt. Meigs. So, my cousin stayed with us awhile. He was very abusive to him and to me too, sometimes. And we weren't very close, though I respect him -- I had to respect him, he was older. But when he got down sick, when he got down...well, let me, this is an incident, I guess you're talking about formative years, in 1937, my mother and my stepfather would periodically get into fights. And, he didn't have much wind. 00:32:00He was short-winded, very short-winded. And she was a fiery type person. I guess I get some of that too.

And if he would start at her, she would get on about something, I don't even know whether women or what, but she would just nag him, get on him, so he didn't have much wind, but once in a while, he'd tell her, Buddy, I'm gonna do so and so, I'm gonna slap so and so out of you. And so, he would once in a while whap her, and then she'd get on him like white on rice, he was trying to move out but he didn't have much wind to resist. And I don't need to talk about all of these times, but I remember one time, my mother had one eye as you know from 1937 on.

HUNTLEY: What happened to her?

SHUTTLESWORTH: They were moving in a struggle and I remember my mother had a broom handle and was hitting at him, and he had a chair and he held that chair up and the broom handle split. Now I'm looking at this as a boy, and that slit 00:33:00went right into her eye. And you could see the (inaudible) or whatever you call it. She accused him of knocking her eye out, and we thought that too, we just took it that, you knocked my eye out, but she never did have an eye after that.

I guess these little incidents that you want to know, it's, so I'm, at this time I was around about maybe fifteen, this was back before I (inaudible). And we were going to discipline him for knocking mama's eye out. Which as I recall now, actually, I'm looking at stick the (inaudible) up in her eye. He was holding the chair up and she hit it and it slid in her eye. So, my oldest sister, the one that's older, and my brother, his first child, we were going to discipline him. We knew he didn't have much wind, so we had figured out that we were going to take him on. Mama had been sick, and she was in the hospital. Mama had another 00:34:00child, two or three children, after she-- And so, we were going to go in the kitchen and he was going to come in and I was going to be ready, and sister was going to say something and Gene was going to bring up the rear, and I was going to grab him. See, I knew if we grabbed him we had him you know. It's an amazing thing. Young people never think that old people have been where they're going.

HUNTLEY: That's right, absolutely.

SHUTTLESWORTH: So, Sister was coming from this room with the broom, she was gone hit him with the broom, Eugene was gone come from this door and confront him, and I was gone grab him. And Papa sensed something that morning, so I started on him and I said, Yeah, you knocked mama's eye out, haven't you? You ain't gonna get away with it either. And so, he was aware, but he was watching. So, Sister 00:35:00began coming through this door with the broom and Gene started through the door, and Papa standing there, What the hell y'all gone do? Everybody went everywhere. (Laughter) And I'm glad to this day I never touched him you know. I don't think young folks should attack their parents for any reason, I just... But I'm talking about boyhood situations. I had a typical boyhood childish life just like everybody else. But I was religiously motivated, and we were disciplined. My mother did not allow us to talk back.

HUNTLEY: You had that foundation, that grounding.

SHUTTLESWORTH: If my mother called my name, I didn't only answer, I had to go to her. I raised my children the same way. She and Papa was this way. If he called me, I had to get up and go, all of us. I even, in my children, I think I might 00:36:00have been pretty strong, but I didn't allow them to whine and pamper after if you get through, if you had to discipline?

And my second girl, I kid her sometimes now, she has grandchildren. She's a toughy, you know, she's gone, I say, Alright, whenever you get ready to end up, I'm through. I'm putting the belt on, you know, or switch. I'd say, when you smile, I'm through. And that's a hard thing, but I did not allow them to go off and pout, and I think now, a part of young people's inability to cope is that they can sulk with life. You can't sulk. Mine had to be a done situation.

HUNTLEY: I remember that too.

SHUTTLESWORTH: My mother didn't allow me to pout. She'd come after we'd get through and if you were in a corner somewhere pouting and (sniffs), she'd put a little more on you, you know, to help you get over it.


HUNTLEY: I remember my mama whipping me, and my brother, "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" (laughter, inaudible)

SHUTTLESWORTH: But then you got to thank the older people for discipline and pray that at least somewhere we can get back to understanding that without discipline nobody makes a success.

HUNTLEY: That's right. At 19, you met the woman that you were going to spend the rest of your life with?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I think I was nineteen and a half, somewhere around there. Nineteen I met her. We stayed married 27 and a half years. And we married and lived in a two bedroom on Eighth Avenue and Twenty-fourth Street here in Birmingham. She had an aunt. Her aunt right over her had been a twin and she was the only one that directly over her and married to her uncle, so Adele and Josh, 00:38:00we called them, were the closest relatives. Adele had another aunt that lived down here by the juvenile thing on Green Street in there somewhere. They was her closest relatives, she didn't have many.

HUNTLEY: Was she from Birmingham?

SHUTTLESWORTH: She was from Birmingham originally out on Lomb Avenue, 824 Washington Avenue. And we got married, and we... I had my mother's sister, which is my cousins, she was my favorite aunt. So, between these two aunts we would do. And we didn't have much money, and it's an amazing thing. People need to perhaps know this. We had, I got working at the Alpha-Portland Cement Plant out there.

HUNTLEY: Oh, okay. Right off of Jefferson.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, right. Four dollars let me see -- fifty-four cents an hour.


HUNTLEY: How long did you work out there?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I made 54 cents and the man who had been working there for 16 years was making 52 cents. But I was the car hooker in the quarry, hooked the thing to pull it up on the rock up to be crushed. And our budget was so narrow 'til we didn't have but about two-and-a-half dollars to live on for two weeks, got paid every two weeks, didn't we?

My wife would buy a lot of corn and English peas. I used to say in church sometimes, she English pea-ed me to death. I don't like them today. But this is it, and then we didn't stay there very long. I always wanted to buy a house. That's another thing, from a child. So, we went out here to, I don't know where you call this little place, it's right below the Number Ten mine, little area 00:40:00there in Wenonah. It's not Wenonah, but you call it something -- Toppler City.

HUNTLEY: Toppler City, okay.

SHUTTLESWORTH: A man named William Croon sold us a house, had four rooms, for $750. I thought we were doing great things. So, he gave me whatever it was on that house. Folks think lawsuits -- and I've been in about forty lawsuits -- that's the first lawsuit I got in. The house was about five feet on somebody else's property. And we learned that, and he wouldn't move it, so that was the first lawsuit that I... But he did move it. Incidentally, this is the same house that the state tried to get when, you know, they took my car in this Montgomery Times suit. And they checked into that property, but as the Lord would have it... and I'm ahead of myself, I had got the Rev. L. J. Rogers to make me a deed, back, and they did move the house, and he finally put two block houses there.


They would have taken that property also, but it was a deed from me to Rogers, although I had the real deed and just hadn't filed it yet, they would have taken it. They did take my fifty-seven Plymouth car and they took some properties from Ralph Abernathy and others.

HUNTLEY: Well, when you, after marriage, you went to work, you worked for a while at the cement plant?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I worked at the cement plant until... and these dates may be a little hazy in my mind. Worked there for at least three years, but I remember I could walk to work, it wasn't that far from Toppler City over there. And then, the first child was born in that house, Patricia Ann, in 1943. We married in 1941, she was born in 1943, January, or February, January.


And then I had met another young man named Dewitt, and Dave, this is how, you know, my life is almost like Abraham's, vagabond, going around. And we decided that we would go, where we started, to work at this Bechtel-McCone airplane factory here in Birmingham. We wanted to work there so we could get in defense work. Instead of that, we took mech-- automobile mechanics, and under the government work. That's how I learned how to, you know, I used to overhaul my own motors and things.

HUNTLEY: Oh, you did?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Oh, yeah. Although I had a natural inclination for things like that, but, took 700 and some hours of training. And we decided that we would go 00:43:00to Mobile, start work in the shipyards to make some money. You know, everybody was trying to make money then, shipyards.

HUNTLEY: Defense work, more or less.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Right. So Dewitt had a family here, his friend Dave, he didn't have a family, but he had a cousin in Mobile who was named Iola, and she lived in an old barber's house with a porch go all the way around the house, and a round barber shop about the size of this room, on the corner. So, we decided that we would stay with her until we got places to go. So, I left my wife and child at our house, and we went on down to Mobile. As the Lord would have it, it's amazing how God fixes you for what you have to do. We went to the federal government's Brookley Air Force Base the very next day, didn't get to the 00:44:00shipyards. We got hired, all three of us, as truck drivers.

HUNTLEY: On the base?

SHUTTLESWORTH: On the base. Brookley Air Force Base. And we got jobs where I didn't have anything to do. I could drive my truck and take people to a place and park it all day. Sometimes, like these joints between the runway, just scrape the old out and put fresh tar, and that would be one thing, and sometimes other stuff. And that's all I had to do. Sometimes, I just, if I went that morning I didn't have anything to do but to park my car and read my Bible all day. So, I was lured to the Bible. I concentrated, I didn't have anything to do but that.

HUNTLEY: How long were you there?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Well, we went in, let's see, was it forty-three, I believe it was.


HUNTLEY: Okay. Did you bring your family down?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Not yet. This is how the Lord does. You skirt on the edge of disaster and yet you are guided. You know that scripture in the Bible that says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord"? That's as true as you can believe. So, at this time, I have never believed in people just living prolific, rough lives. I've always, I was trained up basically religious and to have some respect for yourself. So, I was the youngest of the trio of us. Now in this barber shop, which wasn't, it was a round as I recall it, it was round, not square like this room, but not too much more room than in here. And there were three young women lived there, one of them was real light skinned, another one's about your color, another one slightly darker, but all were nice-looking girls. 00:46:00But the light-skinned girl just took a-- oh, she just-- And all we had to do, see, once we went to work, went to work from 3:30 to 11:00 I believe it was, we would sit out and play checkers. See, that's all we did. The cousin, Dave's -- what was Dave's last name? -- Dewitt was Dewitt Murphy. Dave's cousin named Iola, nice looking, dark, dark-skinned, but she was taking care of this old man. He was real old. And she just cooked and he... I don't know what their arrangements were. And she, she (inaudible), but what--

SHUTTLESWORTH: I didn't hate them, many light-skinned people around. But I just 00:47:00never, I never wanted to be called black by them, I just thought that you know, you hear kids calling each other that. The other thing that made it bad, she would come out and wear just a bra and shorts. Which I thought was practically ungodly for a woman at that time in the 40s. My puritanical, I guess, my, I wasn't so puritanical but I just--

HUNTLEY: That was your upbringing.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah. And maybe I could have liked her a little better if she hadn't been so pushy. I couldn't move, she wanted move for me [inaudible], and so Dewitt's cousin's, Iola, she always empathized with her. Now the other two girls, very seldom even, I didn't see them hardly, they would come by once in a 00:48:00while and keep moving. One of them there I thought was nice, fairly nice, I could have kind of liked her. Also, at this time, the government was paying $50 a month as you recall. And all three of those girls liked me, I didn't know it, and this girl, the light-skin, she wanted to give me her check, and I never believed in men living off women, that's another principle. And I thought it was ungodly for her to do something like this. So, I liked her that much less. But the one I could have liked, she was quiet, and you know, in a situation where one person is gonna take over to do, other people just sort of hang back. And that's why I guess the Lord-- And then we were sitting down discussing it one day, Dewitt, Dave and me, and we were playing checkers. She had been there, and Iola had suggested that I ought to take her to the movies, since she liked me so well. I say, Well, I just don't like her, and I don't play with people, I don't 00:49:00carry people on. She said, well, you can be nice to people. She said, there's nothing wrong with you, and there ain't nothing wrong with her liking you. Well, she'd never said anything like this. So she went back in the house, I think she's tricking and fooling, and you know, these things, now, say something to me. Dewitt and Dave said, you know what, he said, Fred is the damnedest fool I ever seen, and--

HUNTLEY: Were they married as well?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Dewitt was married. He had family here. Dave was not married. I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "You got three women crazy about you and you don't like none of them." And Dave said, "No, he's got four, say, 'cause my cousin Iola likes him." I said to myself, my God, look at what I'm into, to myself. So it was that situation that made me, we had been there about a week 00:50:00and few days, and government paid twice a month, and we got a partial payment. And it was then that I decided with this partial payment to come back home, get my wife and baby at that time, and move down to Mobile, we moved into a project. Now it wasn't that I was so good, and I don't want to say that I would not have gotten involved slightly, at least, with the one I would have liked. But the other one just pushed. So, this was God's way of keeping me, because you can get into this immorality stuff and just really... And I thank God for that now.

HUNTLEY: Your surroundings will make you see things.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, yeah. So, I came back home and got my wife and the child, we were churching. Another thing you might be interested in -- I don't know how long I'm supposed to talk -- I was reared up in a Methodist church out here in 00:51:00Oxmoor. St. Matthew AME, I go out there now and do the services. I never forget your raising; I don't think you ever get too large to go back to where your roots were. And I consider it an honor to see the old people and go back to those places. And my mother was a Methodist.

I had sucked a moving toward the ministry by the time I was 18, seventeen-and-a-half, and I had spoken to my pastor about it, and he said, and in '43 he was to take me to the presiding bishop in October, I think that's when the Methodists meet. But we left Birmingham in June, you see, or July going to Mobile. And he was going to take me and ask for the licentiate to get my license 00:52:00if the mission (inaudible) approved. But we went to Mobile, so naturally I wanted to follow my upbringing and stay with the Methodist church. As God would have it, we had some good friends in the Baptist church. And the Lord had always been good to me. People just take to me for some reason. I don't know why. And some people in the Baptist church were just real nice, and said, come up and visit us, and so I always was apt, and like I'd get up and do a Sunday School lesson and so forth, just took to me. And there were people, the whole church was friendly, well, this was Corinthian Baptist Church. And the St. Paul Methodist Church was down the street, oh, maybe two blocks away. And I tried to go there, but it looks as if there was something about the services that was just cold, methodic and cold.


And it was a difference in their worship at this Baptist church, and of course, I was raised up, you know, in Oxmoor and got a good Baptist church there, and we would go down there, we respect them, but I never thought of being a Baptist. And I said to my wife on a couple of occasions, I said, you know it's a strange thing, I don't feel like I feel. I said, I'm sort of leaning to this. She said, Well, you know we're Methodist, and her family was Methodist and so forth. And we had to drive up from Mobile to Birmingham several times, and I told her aunt and my mother, I said, You know it's a strange thing, but I have a feeling I never felt before about this, I'm really sort of leaning, she said, well, you know you're (inaudible). So we just didn't make too much out of it. I went back 00:54:00to Mobile and I had acknowledged to the pastor there that I felt the call to ministry, and they invite, welcome to the church. But I had to go back and settle the issue of the Methodist church, and I said, well Ruby, let's go -- my wife Ruby -- let's go to church, and so she said -- and it look like the service was so cold, and the minister was preaching, looked like he was doing a strange-- and I said, Well, you know, I'm really considering joining this other church, and then I went (inaudible). I was almost tempted to join the next Sunday, but I went back Methodist church again, but it just didn't take.

HUNTLEY: So, you went back to the Methodist church twice?

SHUTTLESWORTH: I went back three times, three or four times. So the next Sunday, I went back to this Baptist church. Now I remember the sermon that pastor preached, over in Samuel where the Philistines had taken the arc and Samuel had recaptured it and brought it back. And he said, the text was, Samuel said, here 00:55:00I set my Ebenezer, for here truly the Lord has blessed me or helped me or something like that. And that sort of made me realize you have to make a decision and prove what the Lord has done. And I remember that particular sermon out of many which I-- so I joined that church that day, here I set my Ebenezer. Now the historical backdrop is this -- had I been in the Methodist church, I could not be where I am today in the civil rights because the Bishop would have the say, and he was here in Birmingham. A young Methodist minister out in Ensley got in trouble with the Bishop because he would bring people to the Movement and so forth.

HUNTLEY: So, they'll move you?

SHUTTLESWORTH: They can move you around. They can dilute. And so, I remember in '74, he was in Durham, North Carolina, a young man, and I went there and spoke 00:56:00for him at Durham, North Carolina, at the University and other things, he had a big Methodist church there. And he told about how his Bishop had done him. So, my point is that I would not have freedom of speech and expression. In the Baptist church as long as I can get along with my folks-- and so, I was free, I could say what I wanted to say. No Bishop, no President, nobody came, nobody else could tell me what to say--

HUNTLEY: In your congregation.

SHUTTLESWORTH: --and I was absolutely free. And when I got to Bethel, now it's a long history of -- and I'm just in Mobile, I told you my life was like a vagabond. Then the second child was born, Ruby.

HUNTLEY: Born in Mobile?

SHUTTLESWORTH: In Mobile. Ruby, my wife, we wanted a boy, my wife named her Ruby and I knew a boy was coming after awhile, I sent the certificate back and named her Ruby Fredericka. That's the second girl. And then the third child was a boy, 00:57:00he was born in September, forty-six. Now in Mobile...

HUNTLEY: What's his name?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Fred, Jr. Now, I have started taking training, must understand. I was working during the day, going to school out in the country. My wife was with me now, out in a place like would be Bessemer from here, taking night school for four nights a week.

HUNTLEY: What did you--

SHUTTLESWORTH: My theological training, ministers would come and take a little theology, a little this, a little that and the other. But I had a gift, and when the minister licensed me, Rev. E. A. Palmer, at Corinthian, when I joined the church, he let me preach my trial sermon, baptized me -- I was the first man he 00:58:00had baptized. And, of course, and licensed.

HUNTLEY: This was in Mobile?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Mobile, in '44, licensed in '45, as I recall. So then I preached around (?), and that gift, and everybody allowed me to do, you know, preach at the churches and in the district. I had this gift, and so as the Lord would have it, it's just so many-- and you have to just direct how you want this to go--

HUNTLEY: We're going good. This is important, you're talking about foundations.

SHUTTLESWORTH: The white Baptists had what is known in Mobile as Goodwill Missionary to the Negroes. (Laughing) That's interesting in these times.

HUNTLEY: Goodwill Missionaries.


SHUTTLESWORTH: Old Dr. Maynard and his wife, retired white minister and his wife, they took an unusual interest in me and my family, but they had I guess had seen some-- knew I was taking this theological training, and they sought to help, little help they could give us -- although I was working, I didn't need a whole lot. But they took it to be sure that I would continue my religious training. And here's what really made me... I had a permanent job with the government. I had... not being a truck driver, but tow motor operator now, where you stack things.

My job was permanent with the government, I could have been working as long as, you know. But we went to Mobile to save money, at the end of one year we had 01:00:00exactly $93 saved and I said to her, Ruby, I said I could pick up $93 worth of sticks in one year, in a year. I said, Something's wrong, we're not saving money. I said, What I'm going to do, I said, I have a feeling that my life, for some reason, is designed to touch many people. I don't know why I feel like this. I said, So I'm going to school to prepare myself.

Whatever God wants me to do I don't know. I had no idea, of civil rights. I had no idea of going by two rural churches, and the historic First Baptist Church -- First Baptist Church is usually "Fust" Baptist Church -- and that's where I really got ready in Selma for the Civil Rights Movement, I went through... So, I 01:01:00said I'm going to school. Well, she never did contradict me cause she knew I was going to do what I thought I should do anyway. She said, Well, if that's what you feel. So, I began -- I would have gone to school in 1946, but she was pregnant. I have great reservations about men running off and leaving their wives, husbands leaving their wives in distress.

Dr. Maynard and others wanted me to go that year, but I said, no, I'm not going to leave my wife. I said I'll try to go next year. So, I went on and worked until the next year, and I remember being in the theological contest, oratorical contest, I was-- come up to Selma University, see, from the Mobile thing, and there was people from other areas.


HUNTLEY: You represented the Mobile district?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Represented the Mobile. I had learned an oration and D. L. Motley, who was pastoring, he was in Selma, they had churches, little rural churches, and so I went up and Motley orated, and when I orated, man, the whole-- and the president said, Well, you know, I would be glad to have you, we've got property back here, we've got a little property we're going to build for married students. Which was just right, and I said, Well, I'd like to go to school, I told my wife--

HUNTLEY: This is at Selma University?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Selma University, President Dinkins. He said, We'd be glad to help you if you could come. Dr. Maynard and his wife, they were always encouraging. But the boy was born now in '46. So in September of '47, now you must remember -- I told you I had these gifts -- the government always stows away, at that time, a lot of, still does, aviators' coats, salvage yard, tear 01:03:00down buildings, so what -- I was driving a truck now, and instead of carrying some of that lumber to the salvage yard, I just, I had gotten with a young man, we bought a lot on -- mine faced Jett Street, and his faced Atwood Street.

I said, now, if you help me build me a house, I'll help you build you a house. I had never taken training, but we built these (audible), 12 by 24, two rooms. Then I try and help him build him one. And then I hauled a lot of that lumber that the government was going to send to the salvage yard, I just piled up on mine, and eventually made that 12 room into a 24 foot room. I figured out how to extend, and it was an old man that loaned to Corinthian church who helped me, you know.

There is always help when you want to do something. So, I, on my own I had a 01:04:00house, five rooms, my own house, which, when I left Mobile-- and I put in, my purpose in saying this, I put in my own gas, put in my own pipes, I can do that now, and I bought a butane tank, had my gas, and of course, so when I got ready to go to school, I dug my tank up and put it on the truck, bought a cow from a market, dressed out the 450 pounds of beef -- I had too much beef! -- and piled up the stuff, truck, oh, high, way up high, big truck.

And it was a hurricane going on in Mobile at that time when we left, but people came and wished us well and had prayer. It was a beautiful day. I went on to Selma. We got there, and we lived in this house back down there. The president 01:05:00of the university, well-educated man but if his wife hadn't had some money, he would have starved to death, President Dinkins. Yet he could speak some five or seven languages, he told me about it. But he just couldn't get things going. So, I moved in this house, I put my own tank, hooked it up and everything. He said, Well, Mr. Shuttlesworth, and of course I glazed some windows and I fired the boiler in the girls' dormitory, get up early in the morning. There wasn't too much he could do because they didn't have that much money. Selma University has always been poor.

HUNTLEY: So, you were a Godsend to the university then?


HUNTLEY: In more ways than one.

SHUTTLESWORTH: More ways than one. So he said, But I'll tell you what I'll do, he said, Now I could buy you a cow and you could pay for it by giving the school two quarts of milk a day, 14 ¼ cents, and then all over that that you have, 01:06:00you'll buy it for 14¼ cents. And that's how I helped myself a little bit. And I remember the cow had twin calves and that was the first thing I got in the paper way back then. A cow having twin calves was unusual. Of course, the cow died a little later. But I worked and started Selma University, glad to be in school, and we made it. We didn't have much, but we didn't have to starve, and then my wife, being about a year being close to having nurse's training, began working at Burwell Infirmary.

HUNTLEY: She had nurse training in Birmingham?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, before, she was going to Tuskegee before, when she lived in Birmingham.

HUNTLEY: So, she did go to Tuskegee?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah, she didn't lack but about three months from being a full 01:07:00graduated nurse. And so, she started working at Burwell Infirmary, they liked her over there. President Dinkins was a dyed-in-the-wool Baptist, he just didn't think Baptists and Catholics should have anything to do-- And even as a young man, I never did let people just dictate to me and run over me. So, he would see her, he'd be coming early in the morning, I'd be getting up, you know, and he'd be coming down from his home to the school, be reading the paper, walking, reading the paper. Remember once a dog jumped at him, he fell over the thing, not paying attention. Just that he was that kind of eccentric person, but a nice person. And so, one day he told me, he said, Oh, Mr. Shuttlesworth -- never did call me reverend -- oh, your wife work with Catholics? Because, you know, Baptists don't have anything to do with Catholics, no, no, no. And so, when he got through I said, Mr. Dinkins, nobody tells my wife what to do but me. I said, 01:08:00Now, you've helped me put in a few windowpanes, and I appreciated you buying the cow, but that's, I can't live out of that. And he was so taken aback, he didn't expect my response, he never mentioned it again. She just kept right on working and of course the Lord blessed us. Well, in Selma, the same as in Mobile, I got friends, Danny Pritchards, a deacon at First Baptist, and I started going to school there, naturally, Sunday school and church, my gift, I guess, made a way for me. And this is forty-seven. In July '48, a church called me and eleven miles beyond, Everdale Baptist. And in October another one on this side, four miles west of Selma, called, so I had two rural churches.


HUNTLEY: Two churches?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Two rural churches, same year.

HUNTLEY: First and third and second and fourth?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Right. Well, the first was a one-Sunday, third Sunday, church, and they, the church had been built for $1500 the year I was born, 1922, and yet they owed $6000 on it. You can imagine.


SHUTTLESWORTH: So, they call me, a college student, you know, and I go out there, and I remember in our very first meeting. I think my preparation has been thorough, the Lord just brought me through things, and not having training from older people in knowing how to do it, my sense of what's right and what's morally right always guided me, so I remember the very first meeting. They had every year at that church they called in preachers, some preachers been called there five times or more. So, they called me and just didn't have but three 01:10:00deacons, one of them, he read the (?).

You want to hear this? I said, What is there to hear? He said, Well you want to hear me just read this? I said, Well, go ahead and read it. He said, Everdale Baptist Church called Rev. F. L. Shuttlesworth for the year 1948 and 49. I said, Read that again. So, he read it, Everdale Baptist Church called Rev. F. L. Shuttlesworth for the year 1948 and 49. I said, Then you still don't have a pastor. Well, no, we called, we want you. I said, No, that's been your problem, I think, calling pastors every year instead of going on and doing. I said, now, I don't have a church, I'm in school, and I don't really need one, I said, y'all called me. Well, we want you. I said, well, no, but don't call me every year. I said, I believe that the Holy Spirit has something to do with the churches and 01:11:00if you follow him you don't need to have a pastor every year. A young man, 26 years old. And he said, Well, we want you. I said, Well, no, I won't even come. I said, And I'm ready to dismiss the meeting. Go and y'all can call someone. No, we want you. I said, Well, the only way you can have me is to make it indefinite. I said, And I'm not asking you, because I don't need no church. Well, we want you. I said, Okay. I want to move we make it indefinite. I said, You don't have to, I said, but this is your last vote on me today.

HUNTLEY: You were twenty-five years old at this time?


HUNTLEY: Twenty-six years old.

SHUTTLESWORTH: This is '48; I was born in '22. July of '48. So they made it unanimous. And in that very meeting I think I set the tone of how the church 01:12:00should be run. I said, Okay, now you say you think you owe six thousand dollars debt, I said, but we have to find out from the man what it is. I said, Okay, let's check, how many deacons you got? They said, We got three. I said, I don't know them, they're alright with me. Are they alright with you? I said, Because these people are the people you're going to have to work with. Anybody who knows anything about why they shouldn't be deacons you have the right now to say it because these are the people I'm going to work with. We've got to get this debt paid.

And all of a sudden the fellow, he said, Well, I don't have nothing against Jones and Sears, but that Parker, the only reason he don't take a drink of liquor, he can't get it -- he drink liquor like a snake, like a fish. And people (imitates clamor of people talking), and I said, Just a minute. I asked anybody to say honestly what you know. I said, He has courtesy and you don't. You talk 01:13:00about people. I don't believe in talking about-- I said, Now is the time for him to say, in the church -- we're here in the name of the Lord -- what's wrong. I said, He has the courage. So, let him say that. I said, Anybody else? No (whispered). And then here comes my judgmental quality, I said, and I began wondering how I was going to solve this thing. I said, No, he's right. I asked him to say this, and you have the right too. I said, Now there ain't but one way of dealing with this, I said, 'cause righteousness determines that we try to follow Biblical standards. I said, Now, I think his name was Brother Jones, Now, Brother Jones if you have followed the Bible in this then we can deal with this. If you've thought about it, if you can tell us now that you have, see the Bible says if you have, know a brother with a fault, you go to the him and talk to him, between you and him, if not then you tell us. I said, now, have you done 01:14:00this to Brother Parker? Because if you did then Brother Parker can't be a deacon.

He said, Well, no, I ain't said nothing to him. I said, Well we can't deal with it that. Now Brother Parker, I don't know you, it is said that, but you have an opportunity to straighten up. And that's the way I did it, and folks saw that wisdom and they were just carried away, you know. It went on and moved on into it. I said, They have a knack -- it was out in the country you know, they have a knack of, timeliness is another thing. I think this was a good thing that I used in the Movement, I believe in time.

I said, Alright, what time are we going to have service? I said, You set the time, now, but when you set it, be sure and be here 'cause I'm going to be here and we're going to, and they had a knack, people have a knack of voting one thing and doing another. So, they said, What time are we starting at, what time 01:15:00is Sunday School hour? So okay. So 'bout the time for church, they wanted me to start Sunday school, so I had been in that Sunday morning, waiting, and so half of them come down the street, just about the time they were coming in the door I said, Let us stand: [singing] "Blest be the tie that binds--" (Laughter) They always came on time after that.

HUNTLEY: Because they knew you were going to start.

SHUTTLESWORTH: It's an amazing thing if people would just... but you see I'm hard on myself, not just on other people, and I think you should sort of try to find the line. But went on, and I don't guess I have time to tell you how we found out how much of a debt and why. But anyway, we went to the man with a hundred dollars and I was hoping to get him to give us a receipt off of the six thousand or whatever it was -- sixty-five hundred they owed, and this is in 01:16:00Selma now. And this old man owned the store, people come from miles around, he was about 80, and he was cussing me out and said I didn't look like no damn preacher.

HUNTLEY: Was this a Black man or white man?

SHUTTLESWORTH: No, white man, an old white man owned the store, you know. Everybody come, this was the biggest thing in Selma - on Water Street as I recall near the L & N Station, and he said, No-- I had my little deacon with me, you know, and we had this hundred dollars, I was real proud, you know.

HUNTLEY: Hundred dollars is big money.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah. He said, No, preacher, I'm going to put hay in the damn building. He said, You ain't the first preacher to come up here. He said these Negroes ain't gonna do nothing but just keep telling lies, they supposed to done paid for that building. Then that's when I learned how much -- it just didn't cost but fifteen hundred dollars in '22, the year I was born. He said all that's interest. So he was, he was really insulting. So, he called his son who was much 01:17:00older than I was. He said, Son, go bring me my so-and-so book. And he looked at it and he said, Now, he said, Reverend, now course these niggers ain't gonna do nothing, said, But I'm gone give you a break. Said, you look like you're a smart young man, but I'm telling you now, you ain't the first preacher, they been coming here telling me all the time what they were gone do but I'm about ready to close the building up and put hay in it. I said, Well you can put hay in it, I said, but if you gave others a chance, I would hope you'd give me a chance. We'll get it paid. And he said, Well -- looked at the book -- he said, Now tell the truth about it, all this mostly is interest. He said, I'll tell you what I'm going to do, preacher, for you. I'm gone knock it off, it's sixty-five hundred, I'm gone knock it back to forty-five hundred. I could have hugged that old man. I said, Would you give me a receipt on it for that?


And so, I took a receipt back to the church for forty-four hundred dollars instead of sixty-five hundred. It was sort of a glorious thing, to them, you know. And we went on, and when I left there in '50 we had got it down to, what, thirty-nine hundred, something like that. No, it wasn't that, I wasn't out there but another year. But this shows you how a problem, now, I said okay, it's a third Sunday church. I said, Well, let's set the first Sunday since we owe this money, and I'm gonna give fifty cents and ask everybody to give fifty cents a month. Now some of those people weighed bales of cotton. One fellow weighed 15 bale one year, another one weighed, one fellow named Jack Pettaway, who, you had to drive right by his house to get to the church. House sat as close to the street as that wall, and one of his fields was right across in front of me, and 01:19:00at that time I'd go out and go to the field. Jack demonstrated to me one day he could shoot a rabbit's eye out. He wouldn't shoot him in the bed kicking, he said, he'd say he's gone come around there, watch him, say, they always go around and come back where they come from. He said, I'm gone wait till he gets around there and I'm gone shoot him. And sure enough he shot that rabbit through the eye, didn't even hit him in the body. He was a crack shot, and I had to drive right by his house everyday. He said, But I ain't with the first Sunday, said, that's St Luke's day. I said, You don't have nothing to do with St. Luke, that's-- St. Luke was a Methodist church anyway.

I said, You're belong to Everdale, and you ought to, I said, Now, fifty cents ain't gone hurt you. He said, Well I just ain't with it. I said, Now, I don't think you supposed to be in the church and say what you ain't gone do when you can. And we were walking along the field, he was plowing, as I recall, that day, 01:20:00and I walked up two, three rows with him. I said, Well, now, Jack, why don't you just try to understand that the church belongs to the Lord, and we're all working together. I said, I don't have anything. Said, last year, you made five bales of cotton, so at fifty cents--

He said, Yes, I can give it, but I just ain't. I said, You realize you're talking to the pastor of the church and you realize that you can't stand up in a church and say what you ain't gonna do. He said, Well I'm telling you, and you can do what you want to about it. He didn't make no (?). I said, Well, Jack, you know, I said, Brother Pettaway, you know if you don't give the fifty cents and you're able, I'm gonna have to turn you out. He said, You do what you have to do. I've always been tested for courage. It's an unusual thing. So, I said to him, Alright I hope you'll think about it. Said, Pray over it, I said, I've always believe in prayer. He said, I do to, but I just ain't with that.


HUNTLEY: He still wasn't with that, huh?

SHUTTLESWORTH: We had another little fellow out there, white hat, called Bat Smith. And they had gotten together that they weren't gone pay, it's a little group of them. Always it's amazing how Satan--

HUNTLEY: (Laughing) It's always a group there.

SHUTTLESWORTH: So it so happened, I'm going to school and had start taking classes at Montgomery, driving fifty miles, and at one time I needed some gas and I had asked the deacons for I think it was sixteen dollars, that was over a period of time, not just one time. And they had gotten word of that, that I had spent sixteen dollars, and so I guess that sort of helps them in their wrong and not doing. So, we had a September meeting, this was in September of 1949. We 01:22:00were doing well, now, from the year we had already gotten that debt down, we really moved. So, I called the annual meeting. I called the meeting and I said, Now we're going have to get it straight, we're gonna have to get it straight, we're gonna check the roll and everything.

I never will forget this little fellow. I said, Why don't ya'll come on in and let's start. They were under the tree talking and smoking. They said, Y'all go ahead we'll be in, in, in a minute. We'll get it straight. I said, Okay. We started, but they didn't know, and I didn't think, and I was wasn't thinking I had so much special about me. So when they came in, I said, We want to read the roll. Now this same Parker that had accused been drinking at first, he put out a rumor that he had heard that I had a baby at another church at the same the other church was giving me an anniversary, had to be around September or 01:23:00October, they were getting ready, yeah, September, and this was getting ready for October, making plans. In fact, we had the invitation from this church to go to that one. And so they came in the meeting, and I said, Now we have to insist that we do the best we can, if anybody here can't pay the fifty cents, that's not a problem, but if you can pay it and, I said, Now I have some brothers that said they weren't going to pay it. I said, And we at Everdale are not responsible for St. Luke's business.

And I said, Now I have to say this to the church and this is the first thing we'll do today, I said, I talked to Brother Pettaway, I came out just later on this week, we talked twice, I said, but this week I came back. We walked in the field, plowing, and I asked him to give the fifty cents and he told me he 01:24:00wouldn't. And I said, Brother Pettaway is that a fact, did I go up and talk with you? Yeah, he said. I said, Did you tell me that you were not going to do it, you could but you wouldn't? Yeah. I said, And I also told you that if you didn't and can, and won't, and tell the church you won't, then I'd have to ask to turn you out, right? Yeah. I said, Well have you considered, have you prayed over it like I asked you? He said, I prayed but I still ain't with it. (Laugh) This -- I hope this doesn't sound trite.

HUNTLEY: No, no.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I said, Well you know I told you that if you say you won't, and can, I have to ask the church to turn you out. He said, Yeah, and I told you to do what you have to do. I said, Well alright. So, you won't do it. No. I said, I want a motion. So, they made the motion and I turned him out. Now he had sons old as I was. Remember this is the same fellow I got to drive right by his house. Shot a rabbit's eye out in front of me, but I wasn't worried about that. 01:25:00So, he was turned out. And I said, Now, you may be excused. Said, Don't, don't have him go. I said, No, he doesn't have anything to do with the business now if he ain't gone participate.

So he went on out, and so Bat Smith who led the little group on the other, I said, Alright brother Smith, I understand you, oh yeah, we were going to do, we understand that you got sixteen dollars. I said, Are you saying I stole the sixteen dollars? No, but you spent the sixteen. I said, Well let's get that straight, that may be nice, I said, 'cause that ain't got nothing to do with your job, though, see, doing your duty. Well, if you pay it back we'll be out. I said, Brother Smith, that had nothing to do with this.

In fact, I don't think I'm gonna pay it back, 'cause I didn't steal anything, I asked the officers for it to get gas to go to school. I said, you ought to 01:26:00appreciate that. I said, But just to help you out, I don't think I have to and I don't think the folks want me to do that, folks kinda grumbling. I said, but let's let the folks vote on it. If they say I'll pay it back, I still have to decide whether I'll pay it. I said, All those who want me to pay it back stand up. Nobody stood up. I said, All those who want to forget it, stand up. Everybody stood up, including him.

HUNTLEY: Including him!

SHUTTLESWORTH: I said, Alright, now, but, Bat, that means forget it. Now, secretary read the roll of what Brother Smith owes. He had to come up and pay up.

HUNTLEY: He did come up and pay up?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Well this was (?), but that isn't the worst thing I had-- churches are, but this was, I guess, part of my discipline.

HUNTLEY: This is part of the preparation.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Preparation. The worst situation I ever had was at First Baptist Selma before I got to Birmingham. And I must move on and tell you that. They had a minister at First Baptist, Grimmett, John Frank Grimmett, who -- I don't know 01:27:00if he's still alive, he teaches in Nashville -- but he was there. And you will remember that I told you J. D. Pritchard, he was superintendent of the Sunday School, a deacon and a trustee -- and sang in the choir. And he was real friendly, called me F. L., I called him J. D., you know. And so, this pastor had become involved with some woman or something, and he would stand up in the pulpit and fussed, just, it was terrible. So finally, he left in, what was it, October '49. I'm still at my two churches. You must remember I'm going to school in Montgomery, I'm working and different, oh, and I was getting so tense, but I 01:28:00still stayed in church. So the deacons at First Baptist -- and I worked for one of the deacons, the only Black plumber, named Ben Harrison, under the plumbing, doing all of that stuff. Wrench would slip, he'd cuss, he didn't think nothing about it 'cause he never thought I'd be his pastor.

And he, Pritchard and Dr. Brown, who was a pharmacist, the only Black pharmacist in Selma, they were the three people who had to do everything, and they did some ungodly things, the church didn't have nothing to do with it, so I guess God had me going through that as a training. So, but they liked me at the church so that one morning -- Grimmett suddenly left the church -- I went to Sunday school, getting ready to go to my other church about one o'clock.

They said, We want to see you after church -- the deacons. I said, Okay, but 01:29:00I've got to go. So when they, Pritchard said, Well, Reverend, you've got a good message and people here kind of like you and we think you can be a help to us and we can give help to you. I said, In what way? And Ben Harris, I never will forget him, Ben's veins, just normally, would stretch along his temple like rope, just stand out very-- an old man but he was nice old person, he was kind of mean, and he took over and he said, Well, what we'd like for you to do is set your service back an hour and preach for us and we'll give you ten dollars -- didn't ask him -- and we'll give you ten dollars.

Well, ten dollars to me then was like a hundred, hundred-fifty, now. So I didn't say anything, I said, Well okay I can do that. And I knew that other churches 01:30:00would agree. And I had straightened that first church out, and that second church, Mt. Zion, [inaudible] was a family church, out of the seventy-something folks, fifty-eight of them were family members, the great-grandfather, the grandfather, the grandson -- generations.

I can deal with this real quick. When I went there I said, This is a family church. Yeah. Okay. Second and fourth Sunday. I said, Now church is supposed to be God's family. I've always been able to frame it in a way that it's scriptural. And there was an old man, hair white as snow, I said, Brother English -- four generations were in that church -- I said, Now this family's your blood, right? Yeah. I said, Well, here's the way we deal in the church. 01:31:00Your blood is corrupt. The blood of Christ is the blood we're goin' in. (Laughing.)

HUNTLEY: It's Christ's church?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yea, I said, It's Christ's church so that means I won't deal with you as a family. I deal with you as members of God's kingdom. Understand that. So, it went on, it was pretty nice. This is Mt. Zion, Potters Station. That's only thing I ever had to straighten out there, so maybe if I got eight dollars, I thought that was good. So, I called myself-- and they were-- whatever they gave the preacher they were cutting out of it for to pay the lights and things. So, I said to them, well now let's do this. What you want to give for lights and the expenses of the church, do that, what it's wrong for them to cut out of what you give to me.

So I said, Well, give a quarter one Sunday for the church and then what you give 01:32:00me they won't have to cut out of it. I said then the next thing, and the deacon, see he had his family on one ward, and you know, I said, we're gone read the ward off so I can hear it 'cause they wasn't reporting too much. So next Sunday everybody's gone read the list, the ward lead. My good friend Stuart which figures promptly in at First Baptist, as I'll tell you a little later, he had a church named St. Paul. He had a deacon over there would stand up and just head-to-head with him in the church, you know, and I told him I thought, I said Stuart, he has no reason of doing that to you in the church.

Stuart was a nice little person. So that same Sunday that I had told them to read the names, he happened to be in our church. And we didn't have on the board but -- John Praytor was a nice person, the English's, and we had a tall kind of 01:33:00light-skinned fellow named Jones. And I had preached -- we had a good service -- and had sat down.

SHUTTLESWORTH: I said, Brother Jones, do you understand last Sunday, two weeks ago, now, that we were gone read today? Yeah. I said, Well, you didn't say a word to me about it, you just gone announce that? You can't do that. I said, Sit down and I'll call the roll. (Laughing.) So, he sat down. And the old man was friendly, the granddad. And this was beautiful. I never had no more problems. I said, Alright, well, call the roll. Class number one! Brother English! And 01:34:00English got up and he-- it was so beautiful, as he may would have, and so and so, and so and so [sing-song voice], said, And so and so, but he didn't have it written out. And I said, Oh, you wasn't gonna-- you didn't have it written out, did you? I act like I'm mad. I was so tickled I didn't know what to do. He said, Well, no I don't have it today, Brother Pastor. You decided you wasn't gonna do what I asked you to do. I'm acting like I'm mad, I wasn't. He said, Well, no, we'll have it next time, I'll have it next time, I promise, I'm sorry. I said okay, just make your report.

Now his son was the next one. I said, Alright, number two. (Laughing) He said, I'm sorry, Brother Pastor, I don't have... I said, Oh, y'all got together on this thing. I said, I don't know, I don't want to have to be the whole deacon board, but now we're gone have to follow some directions around here. Just as tickled as I could be inside. I said you don't have yours written out? I said, Have it written out next Sunday.

Then his grandson, next, his son, Well I don't have mine either. I said Alright, 01:35:00just tell me what you got tell me, said but don't come up next Sunday without them. And so that was all. They did real well and I had no more trouble at that church. Beautiful. Beautiful. Had no trouble with none of that church. So, I'm at First Baptist now.

HUNTLEY: This the big church.

SHUTTLESWORTH: This preacher left it, so I'm preaching there from October til May. And First Baptist Church, they didn't shout, you know, but I was a young man and I was doing what I-- doing the best I could. And they started shoutin' now and then. And most time I'd leave them shouting, I'd have my back, going down the aisle, and be at my church next thirty minutes, either one of them was that close. And so, we, they had sent out and got oh, at least eight or ten preachers during that time to come and speak. But somehow or another, at May, 01:36:00when they decided to call, it was set that they would call me. And I had no concern about it, never asked anybody. So then, so we decided, they decided to call me. Well now here is where you get into these problems within these churches. These three men, and four was a man, tall fellow named Lawrence Danzy who had a real light-skinned girl, he was dark, tall. He put his hand on his knee and his fingers would come down a third of his leg, real long, real (inaudible). But he was the people who the others would put him up to say what he-- he was the man, you know.

And now, remember, as we got there this church, old historic steeple seventy-five feet in the air, history, but dying on the vine. So, I had gotten 01:37:00the mission organizers, four or five circles were working, and women and young people, BTU and so forth, going to school, and really working myself to death not knowing, becoming almost nervous because I had worked both the other churches and now this one. And still in school, so these deacons had somehow or another had got up that the pastor would preside over the church meeting and the chairman of the deacon board, who was Dr. Brown, would preside over the deacons' meeting, which means those three people do what they want them to do. And I'm sitting in the chair, it's as if I'm rubber-stamping it and I told them I didn't think that was right. Pritchard said, Well, you know, you have to (inaudible) here's Stewart, Rev. Stewart (inaudible). Brian, tell F. L. -- the hardwood floors began to be popular in that area in '50, '52 -- go down there and tell F. L. that he ain't got nothing to do but stay on them hardwood floors, we're gone 01:38:00take care of it. So, Stewart brought that message to me. I said, Go back and tell J. D. that I can't eat hardwood floors. This is just how the Lord does it.

And so, and later on, and he said to me, incidentally, shortly after I got there, F. L., now you're First Baptist's pastor, you don't have to fool around with these little Negroes like Stewart and others, you're a big Negro now, you don't need these little Negroes. I said, Now, J. D. -- don't have to fool with these little Negroes he said -- I said, J. D., God must love little niggers, he made many more of them than he did us, as big niggers. And I said, I don't change, a person doesn't have to be a big person to be a friend of mine. So, he didn't say no more. I said, Now I don't let anybody tell me what to say and how 01:39:00to do. Well, you better get with us, 'cause we-- I said, No, you get with me, now.

They had, in the short, let me see if I can sum this up, they had either aggregated to themselves, or -- they said the church had done it but it wasn't as you'll see a little bit later -- that the deacons and pastor, or rather the deacons because, see, the pastor didn't do anything but rubber-stamp. The deacons could do anything they wanted to do and didn't have to make a report to the church. Baptist church. (inaudible, could be "in which the power in the pulpit") And worse than that, it's just only those three, or four, that was making all the decisions.

HUNTLEY: They had control didn't they?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah. He superintendent of Sunday School, blah, blah, blah. So okay. I remember going to St. Louis, to, yeah, to a convention. When I got back, Pritchard said to me -- this is how things go -- F. L. -- and did you notice now 01:40:00you go to Selma, they built parking right up almost against the church, so the church had a lot in there. And, F. L. -- he just reported to me like one Sunday morning -- F. L., State had to take that property out there so me and Ben and Brown told them to go ahead and take it. I said, Who did that? Me and Ben and Brown, said nothing else we could do but take it. I said, If you can't help but take it, I said the church ought to take it. He thought that was the worst thing in the world. He said No. And so, Ben said to me, Ben Harris -- tough one -- you ain't got no business bringing no business before them. I said but they put you up in the honor here, you supposed to teach them here, they don't know till you teach them. And they just got (inaudible, could be: "heartless mad at me") for bringing things to the church and letting the church do it. So, it so happened 01:41:00that the Lord would deal with things. I don't think that we do so much, we just have to stand where we're supposed to stand, the Lord will work things out.

I had gotten another woman to be the missions president, and she had five circles, more than ever had in a long time. And we were coming up now to -- see this is '51, I left at the end of '52 -- but, it, and Ben Harris being the only plumber, they had built this parsonage, had put the water in, put the gas in, all he did without any bids at all and didn't say nothing to the church, so you'd hear folks say, yeah, folks say preacher and deacons stealing the money. Well you know I'm not going to get into that. So, at First Baptist they had a 01:42:00couple of outhouses for toilets, you go down the steps and on that side, the women on the other side. And that old fixture was so bad till if you used it, pulled the chain, you had to run outside to put your clothes up, men and women. So, I said to them, Brethren, this is wrong. We ought to put those toilets inside where they need to be. Basically, the church is higher than the ceiling so you could just put it inside. So, they agreed. I said, Well alright, now let's get estimates on the toilets. Pritchard said, No we don't need none, let Ben do it. I said, I favor Brother Harris doing it, even if his bid is higher 'cause he's a Black, Negro, plumber, I said but we should get bids. And they thought I was the worst thing in the world for insisting.

HUNTLEY: A change.

SHUTTLESWORTH: It was terrible. So, they never forgave me for that. I said, Alright (handclap) but we gone get bids. Said we won't do it. And the church had 01:43:00already voted for it, so I'll have to say to the church we'll get bids. Well, you don't have-- just let us-- I said, No, sir. So, guess what they did. They said, Well, alright we'll get bids. But Ben had to get on the bidding committee, so he'd see everybody else's bids.

HUNTLEY: (Laughing) And then he'd make his bid, huh?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Alright so when the bids came in, Ben's bid was seven dollars less than the other two bids. Seven dollars. I said, Well, Brethren, this isn't the problem. The problem is that you all just insisted that the church had nothing to do with the bid, to get them in the first place.

HUNTLEY: Was he on the committee?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah. Yeah. So, I said, Naturally Brother Harris is going to do it. I said, I told you that at first, but the idea of getting the bids is so the church would know that it costs what you say it costs. And they thought I was 01:44:00just the--

Alright, so the crisis is coming. The crisis is coming. But God's getting me ready for the Civil Rights Movement. J. D. when he was -- we were good friends you know -- when he was fine he'd call me F. L., and in church he'd shout like a woman sometimes. He'd get mad he'd set up just like this here, and I said--

And so, I announced in church one Sunday that we were not gone have board meeting. He sat right behind me, great big old (inaudible, could be: "auburn"), you know, and he was right behind. Wasn't time for it to be? I said I just announced that we won't have it. I said because I don't think I should be sitting in the chair and you all doing the business of the church and I ain't got nothing to say, I'm not that kind. Well-- I said, well, you can't call the meeting, can you? I say I just announced that we won't have it so that finishes that.


That's the first time he'd ever had that happen. So, I didn't have the meeting for a while. It so happened in August of that year -- it's amazing how you remember things -- the women had raised some money to go to Birmingham. They didn't mind, they gone provide and bring the money to them so they could count it, just, as deacons, as authority. She said to me, said, Well, Reverend, they won't even turn in reports when they go out and collect for the money. She said, I ain't gone turn in nothing. And so, I said, Well, I don't want no trouble. She said, Well, you got it. She said, These people are doing their best now to destroy you and you better let us work with you.

Well, I have never thought of dividing people, pitting them together. To me that's offensive in a church. Her name was Nora (inaudible). I said, Well, Nora, let me-- let me-- I said, I'll tell you what you do. I said, Why don't you just go ahead and turn it in? She said, No, she said if you order me to turn it in, 01:46:00I'll turn it in. But if you don't order me to turn it in, I ain't turning it in, I ain't studying those niggers, that was her words. I said, I don't want no trouble, she say, You got it. She said, They're doing their best now to destroy you. They don't want-- they're talking about the work-- Now see they knew more about it than I did. And so, said, Pritchard already done talking about voting you out of the church.

I said, Well, I'll tell you what you do, let me go home and pray over it. I say this now when I have to think about something. I said let me pray over it. She said, Well you pray over it but I've told you what I'm gone do. She said, You tell me Sunday to turn it in and I'll do it, but if you don't I ain't gone do it. As the Lord would have it, Pritchard sent Stewart back around to my house. Stewart, go around there and tell F. L make them women turn that money in -- just like that!

HUNTLEY: (laughing) That was it, huh?

SHUTTLESWORTH: So, when he sent Stewart around there, Stewart said, I didn't 01:47:00want to do it but Pritchard told me to come out there and I told him I'd do it. I said, go back and tell J. D. I said go to hell. He said, Well, tell you the truth, Fred, now, he knows, blah, blah-- I said, Stewart, this is not St. Paul where you let this brother go up and-- I said, this isn't St. Paul. He said, Well, to tell you the truth about it, now you know you do live on them hardwood floors, and they pay you a hundred and eighty dollars a month. As the Lord would have it, the assistant superintendent was a Black woman, she belonged to that church and she gave me a job making two hundred and fifty dollars a month, so I'm making two fifty plus that one eighty they were paying, believe it was a hundred and eighty or a hundred and eighty or two -- whatever it was. And they just thought, man, that that was just too much money for me, they couldn't control me, you know. So, they were really getting it together and I had stopped 01:48:00the meetings.

Then before I had stopped the board meetings , the parsonage was on almost an acre of ground, beautiful little house, and they wouldn't cut the grass, wanted me to cut it, so I told them I said, Well, no, in the board meeting, the last one I attended before-- I said, well, give me ten dollars for this. They said, well, we don't cut the grass. I said, Who's supposed to cut it? Well, you live-- I said, Yeah, but I ain't gone cut the grass. So, I just quit cutting the grass, let it grow up around it, had a little path to go up to a beautiful house. And so, I did say one Sunday morning, I think I'm going to have to ask the church to cut the grass around there. Well, they didn't want that you know. So, Brian said, Well, we, we, we'll give you ten dollars this time. I said, No, don't give me ten. Well, we'll cut it this time. I said, No, not this time, just cut it. And cut it the next time.


HUNTLEY: Regularly.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah. Well, all of this, they were just backing up, you know. So then finally, to make it to a head, now, I realize I'm talking too long on this, but this is...

HUNTLEY: No, no, no.

SHUTTLESWORTH: When this woman didn't turn the money in and he sent round there, the fat was in the fire. As the Lord would have it, I had to go down to Camden to do a revival in the Presbyterian church, a fellow, we were friends, and that week I got a chance to think, during the day you know, preach at night, and it was good for me.

And so, when I came back home that Saturday morning I went on to Selma University, and I was coming back walking by Pritchard's shop and he's in there just doing his work you know. And it looked like to me something said, Go in there and let him know that he's not God. And I walked in there and I said to 01:50:00him -- he was shocked to see me 'cause he'd been talking about me, know he was mad. F. L., I didn't expect to see you here. I said, I know you didn't. Said, but I came by to tell you this morning that I have observed you as being a person who as much devil as is much angel. I said, Now you can shout like a woman and curse like a sailor. I said, You want to speak for me and through me but I'm not to do your work. I said, Now, I really came by to tell you that I don't need you to speak for me and when I make a determination, I'm supposed to do what I think God wants me to do. And I finally came by to tell you to go to hell. And walked out. He was shocked. I knew the fat was in the fire. So, Nora called me and asked me did I want her to turn-- and I said, No, to hold it for a while, see what happens. And so, when I did call a meeting, after all this, 01:51:00that, the plumbing, all this other stuff. I had one little fellow who really thought the world and all of me. And they had gotten to this fellow and he was so fired up till, so when we had the meeting it was almost a cheerleading squad. "We don't have no preacher runnin' this church (inaudible)! NO! Ain't gone have no women runnin' this church! NO!" I was shocked you know. And so, this little fellow, he said it two or three time and this fellow said, Shout NO, goddammit! I said, uh, oh, that's enough now. I say that means the church has to take charge of this now. Pritchard, what you mean, you gone bring that-- I said, Yes, sir, church has to decide on, I said this is the church business, you know. I said, And I told you to start off with, and they want to tell me I couldn't bring something to the church. Well, when you gone bring-- I said, Whenever I 01:52:00get ready. Well, we don't have no-- I said, We have when I get ready, that's all.

So, Pritchard and them really go to running around now. Remember I lived in a little house back of Selma University, and I had to come up a little alley. Joe Cribb, bald-headed guy, no teeth, had a (inaudible), but he loved me and my wife. And he knew what time I come out going to Sunday School. And you could look straight down the road and see dust fly half a mile, streets weren't paved then. So, Joe was standing out there when I came out, he had his handkerchief waving me down, had tears in his eyes.

He said, Reverend -- and Pritchard had put it out -- he said, I know how you're feeling and, God, I admire you, said but if you can see your way not to bring that up today I'd appreciate it. I said, No, Joe, it ain't your business. He 01:53:00said, Well it's my business because I love you and your wife, I think you're a God-sent man, said, but those people have killed so many preachers at First Baptist. He said, See that (inaudible), say, that's Pritchard's, I just left him, said Pritchard said to me that if you bring that up today, you done preached your last sermon today. I said, Well I'm on my way now to preach my last sermon.

Incidentally, that same meeting where they had all this squad, Lawrence Danzy, the one I told you about his fingers so long, he sat there, and before he got into this other thing, Pritchard said, Yeah, people say you're part-time preacher, full-time pay, talking about my teaching. I said, Are you talking about my teaching school? Yeah, but that what the folks say, I said, I don't remember appointing any committee to find out what the folks say, I say, ain't nobody said nothing to me but you about this. I said, what you want me to do, 01:54:00babysit you? Y'all grown folks. I said, I don't know whether I sat all the time with you, you'd be that much more holy. Well, that's what folks saying. He sat there with his hands on his knees, I never will forget, and I looked at him and I remembered that Scripture. He said, You gone quit teaching or else. I said, How did you say that, Danzy? He said, I said, You gone quit teaching or else. I said, You just gave me my answer. Dr. Brown, well, well, what's, what's, what's your answer, Brother Pastor, what? Pritchard too, Yeah, what is your answer? I said, I'll take the else, whatever the else is.

Dr. Brown said, well, what does that mean? That means that I'm gone get in the boat with the Lord and we both gone sail right down the middle of the river. If 01:55:00God has gotten so weak as to let little people like you get strong enough to sink the boat, then God's going out of business and I'll go out with Him. I said, But I don't think you can. I said, that means that I'm going to take the else. I'm not going to stop teaching. That's what it means. I said, Besides, I'm ready to go home this week. They were just, ooh, they were-- So that Sunday morning -- history.

HUNTLEY: Now is the church splitting on this issue?

SHUTTLESWORTH: No, it ain't split, it's not split.

HUNTLEY: It's just those individuals.

SHUTTLESWORTH: Those deacons. And three or four preachers before me, some of them had never preached any more since they left that church so disgusted. So that Sunday morning, I got up and preached. Hindsight now, I'd do that before I preached, but anyway I preached and had a good service. And so, I said, they were all sitting together on this long bench, church is kind of curved, they 01:56:00were on this bench on this side. And I said, after I got through preaching, nearly 'bout time to go, I said, There comes a time when a man must decide whether he's a man or mouse. And boy you should have seen their faces, crestfallen. I said, The church has to decide the relationship in this church between deacons and pastor, and what is the authority, whether the church has the authority, whether I have the authority to at least give directions and expect cooperation. Well, yeah! That's what you're here for! (inaudible) So I had an old preacher named Alexander whose wife like this, she played the organ, and when she played the organ it could make you almost get up off your seat. But 01:57:00he said to me, he said, Son, call you a conference. That's what he said, Son, call you a conference. I said, Alright, alright, we don't need to settle it now. I said, Meet out here Wednesday night. Meet Wednesday night at seven o'clock. I'm expecting everybody.

Now this is a point of history. The same day that Carl Erskine struck out fifteen Yankees in the World Series, I sat on the side of my car, '35 V8, in Montgomery (inaudible), writing down my recommendations to the church. The first thing was that all authority in the church be in the body and no boards. Second thing was that the pastor of the church preside over all of the business meetings, the board and everything else. Third thing was money. But any rate, so we met that night, it was tremendous.


HUNTLEY: Church packed?

SHUTTLESWORTH: The church didn't have enough members to fill it, but I think there were some folks who weren't members. So, they were all sitting on this thing, just like that Sunday morning. I said, Now, it's unfortunate that this happened, I said, but I cannot and will not play with a church. I will not be in charge of something that's going wrong and not being done right. And as I had said in the pulpit that morning, I said, from the top of my head to the sole of my feet I'm all man, there's nothing mousy about me.

And I said, I told you that Sunday. I said, now the church has to decide tonight the relationship, who is to be the pastor, what is the pastor's duty if you want to define it. I said, But it can't go any further like this. I don't know why God sent me to First Baptist. I have no idea. I was satisfied with my two rural 01:59:00churches, I was doing well. And I was. My level of understanding at that time was -- and you know teachers were getting a C certificate at that time, they could teach. Teachers would come to Selma University to work on that C certificate. If I had two little churches and could get a C certificate and teach, I was alright anyway, I was teaching.

HUNTLEY: Where were you teaching?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Uh-- Emanuel School, right below Selma about thirty miles.

HUNTLEY: High school?

SHUTTLESWORTH: Yeah. High school. And so, everybody was there. And I said, I'm not for argument, but it has come to a point where I just won't go any farther. I said, I don't have to have a church. So, folks said, Well you tell us what you want. I said, Alright, I said, Now, number one, Pri-- the deacons say -- I 02:00:00didn't call no name -- that you all have voted somewhere down the line that all authority goes to the deacons and trustees and they can do what they want to do and don't have to make a report. Oh, no! Whoever said that --- Pritchard said, Oh no-- (mimics shouting) Y'all said so-and-so-- Nooo, we ain't done nothin'!

I said, No argument, don't have to argue. My recommendation is that all authority, final authority, over me and everybody else, be in the body. I say, I want a motion. Unanimous. I said, The next thing is that the pastor of the church preside over all business of this church. I said I sit in the chair like a kid, the board doing what they want to do. They said, We thought-- Pritchard said, (mimics shouting) -- preside over church meeting, deacons-- I said, Nope, 02:01:00nope, I said, no, hold it, they voted that. Next thing, I said, I split the deacons from the trustees. I said, whenever things get to where one man has to do everything it's the wrong. So, I said, The deacons be deacons and the trustees be trustees. That was number three.

Number four was, The pastor of the church be authorized to either sign or countersign all checks, cause that's where the power is. We thought you signed! I said, No, Dr. Brown signed. Who told you to sign checks, Dr. Brown? I said, No, uh-uh, let's vote this. I said, because this was either I'll sign, or I will tell who signs what to sign. That way I will at least administer it. That was, what four things?

Fifth one was, as I recall, that ward leaders be required, or be replaced, to turn in their records and so forth. 'Cause see I had just printed a partial list 02:02:00of people hanging with them and me too. And it was seven or eight, it was eight things I think, but that's about five or six, I don't remember all of them--