Friday, October 28, 2011

Tribute: Civil Rights Trail Blazer Rev. Fred Shuttesworth

The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, left, with Ralph Abernathy and Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963.

The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth

Civil Rights Leader who survived beatings and bombings in Alabama a half-century ago as he fought against racial injustice alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., died on Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala. He was 89.

He died at Princeton Baptist Medical Center, his wife, Sephira Bailey Shuttlesworth, said. He also lived in Birmingham.

It was in that city in the spring of 1963 that Mr. Shuttlesworth, an important ally of Dr. King, organized two tumultuous weeks of daily demonstrations by black children, students, clergymen and others against a rigidly segregated society.

Graphic scenes of helmeted police officers and firefighters under the direction of T. Eugene (Bull) Connor, Birmingham’s intransigent public safety commissioner, scattering peaceful marchers with fire hoses, police dogs and nightsticks, provoked a national outcry.
The brutality helped galvanize the nation’s conscience, as did the Ku Klux Klan’s bombing of a black church in Birmingham that summer, which killed four girls at Sunday school. Those events led to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, after the historic Alabama marches that year from Selma to Montgomery, which Mr. Shuttlesworth also helped organize. The laws were the bedrock of civil rights legislation.

“Without Fred Shuttlesworth laying the groundwork, those demonstrations in Birmingham would not have been as successful,” said Andrew M. Manis, author of “A Fire You Can’t Put Out,” a biography of Mr. Shuttlesworth. “Birmingham led to Selma, and those two became the basis of the civil rights struggle.”

Mr. Shuttlesworth, he added, had “no equal in terms of courage and putting his life in the line of fire” to battle segregation.
Mr. Shuttlesworth joined with Dr. King in 1957 as one of the four founding ministers of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the engine of Dr. King’s effort to unify the black clergy and their flocks to combat Jim Crow laws. At the time, Mr. Shuttlesworth was leader of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, which he had helped form in 1956 to replace the Alabama offices of the N.A.A.C.P., shut down for years by court injunction.

Outside their roles as men of the cloth and civil rights advocates, however, Mr. Shuttlesworth and Dr. King stood in sharp contrast to each other in terms of background, personality and strategies.
Dr. King was a polished product of Atlanta’s black middle class. A graduate of Morehouse College, he held a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University. Fred Shuttlesworth was a child of poor black Alabama whose ministerial degree was from an unaccredited black school. (He later earned a master’s degree in education from Alabama State College.)

Where Dr. King could deliver thunderous oratory and move audiences by his reasoned convictions and faith, Mr. Shuttlesworth was fiery, whether preaching in the pulpit or standing up to Bull Connor, who dueled with him for years in street protests and boycotts leading up to their historic 1963 showdown.

Diane McWhorter, the author of “Carry Me Home,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2001 book about the struggle in Birmingham, wrote in an e-mail that Mr. Shuttlesworth was known among some civil rights activists as “the Wild Man from Birmingham.”

“Among the youthful ‘elders’ of the movement,” she added, “he was Martin Luther King’s most effective and insistent foil: blunt where King was soothing, driven where King was leisurely, and most important, confrontational where King was conciliatory — meaning, critically, that he was more upsetting than King in the eyes of the white public.”
Mr. Shuttlesworth was temperamental, even obstinate, and championed action and confrontation over words. He could antagonize segregationists and allies alike, quarreling with his allies behind closed doors.

But few doubted his courage. In the years before 1963 he was arrested time and again — 30 to 40 times by his count — on charges aimed at impeding peaceful protests. He was repeatedly jailed and twice the target of bombs.
In one instance, on Christmas night 1956, he survived an attack in which six sticks of dynamite were detonated outside his parsonage bedroom as he lay in bed. “The wall and the floor were blown out,” Ms. McWhorter wrote, “and the mattress heaved into the air, supporting Shuttlesworth like a magic carpet.”

When he tried to enroll his children in an all-white school in 1957, Klansmen attacked him with bicycle chains and brass knuckles. When a doctor treating his head wounds marveled that he had not suffered a concussion, Mr. Shuttlesworth famously replied, “Doctor, the Lord knew I lived in a hard town, so he gave me a hard head.”

Freddie Lee Robinson was born on March 18, 1922, in rural Mount Meigs, Ala. He took the surname Shuttlesworth from a man his mother, Alberta Robinson, later married. He had eight siblings, and the family supplemented its income by sharecropping and making moonshine liquor, an activity for which Mr. Shuttlesworth was sentenced to two years’ probation in 1940.

He was a truck driver in the early 1940s but was soon drawn to pulpits in Selma and Birmingham. He became pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1953 and joined the Alabama chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. before it was outlawed from the state in 1956. He and others established the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights to carry on the chapter’s work and came to challenge the white power structure on many fronts.
In 1963 he welcomed Dr. King to Birmingham to take part in the protests. They planned a boycott of white merchants coupled with large marches that they expected would provoke overreaction by city officials and show the world the depth of white resistance.

“We wanted confrontation, nonviolent confrontation, to see if it would work,” Mr. Shuttlesworth later said. “Not just for Birmingham — for the nation. We were trying to launch a systematic, wholehearted battle against segregation, which would set the pace for the nation.”
Mr. Shuttlesworth suffered chest injuries when the pummeling spray of fire hoses was turned on him. “I’m sorry I missed it,” Mr. Connor said when told of the injuries, The New York Times reported in 1963. “I wish they’d carried him away in a hearse.”

After 1965, with the new civil rights legislation on the books and Dr. King turning his attention to poverty and black problems in the urban North, Mr. Shuttlesworth remained focused on local issues in Birmingham and Cincinnati, where he had moved to take the pulpit of a black church. He traveled frequently between Ohio and Alabama before returning permanently to Birmingham in 2008 for treatment after suffering a stroke the previous year.

Besides his wife, Mr. Shuttlesworth is survived by four daughters, Patricia Massengill, Ruby “Ricky” Bester, Carolyn Shuttlesworth and Maria Murdock; a son, Fred Jr.; a stepdaughter, Audrey Wilson; five sisters, Betty Williams, Truzella Brazil, Ernestine Grimes, Iwilder Reid and Eula Mitchell; 14 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.

With the death of Dr. King, and later Dr. King’s chief aide, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Mr. Shuttlesworth eventually assumed the role of elder statesman in the civil rights movement. In 2004 he was named president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but he stepped down the same year, complaining that “deceit, mistrust and a lack of spiritual discipline and truth have eaten at the core of this once-hallowed organization.”

He also came under criticism by gay rights advocates in 2004 when he lent his name to a campaign in Cincinnati to stop the city from passing a gay rights ordinance.

He remained an honored figure in Birmingham, however. In 2008, the city renamed its principal airport Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

In 2009, in a wheelchair, he was front and center among other dignitaries in an audience of about 6,000 at the city’s Boutwell Auditorium to watch a live broadcast as the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, was sworn in.

He had encountered Mr. Obama, then a senator from Illinois, two years earlier, along with former President Bill Clinton, during a commemoration in Selma of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights marches. As a crowd crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where demonstrators were beaten and tear-gassed on “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, Mr. Obama pushed Mr. Shuttlesworth’s wheelchair.

Sunday, October 16, 2011



Gil bought new meaning to 'Like It Is'. He tells Our story in a way that hasn't been told before. Gil felt that Black History is important and vital to the community. This he took seriously, because he felt race was and lack of knowledge of our true history was and is a serious issue.

So as he reports to those that are interested... he is serious in the reality he is rendering a service of vital need.

Early in my childhood my mother would watch Like It Is in the seventies and she would sit me down and talk about what was going on with the Civil Rights Movement. I became aware of what was going on early in life. I became familiar with.... Martin L.King, Malcolm, Adam Clayton Powell and others.

This show was a learning experience and his footage of past events are so vast you will find it nowhere on the air. I thank him for his years of dedicated service to the Black experience, culture and caring and airing what concerns us.

Truthful journalism!

Gil joggles many hats...
Not only is he an extraordinary journalist, he is a painter , sculptor and a pianist.

Thanks so much channel 7 for being courageous enough to allow 'Like It Is' to run 43 years strong! And Gil you are loved and we are praying for your recovery.
"We cannot duplicate Gil Noble or 'Like It Is,'!

God Bless!

Noble began at Ch. 7 in 1967. A year later he became host of "Like It Is," which has become an important outlet for area viewers to get information on topics important to the African-American community. He's focused only on "Like It Is" since 1986.

Gil Noble will not return to hosting Ch. 7's 'Like It Is' after suffering stroke in July.

Two months after he suffered a severe stroke, the family of WABC/Ch. 7 legend says Gil Noble will no longer be able to host the long-running public affairs show "Like It Is."

Davis said Noble, 79, continues to recuperate and "according to his family, is making progress."

He's also been a tireless advocate for the African-American community.

Outside of his work at Ch. 7, Noble has produced documentaries on W.E.B Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ch. 7 has been airing classic installments of "Like It Is" since word got out of Noble's condition. The show airs Sundays at noon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

'Heroic Africans' Exhibit Opens at the Met

Ask the average American to identify a legendary African leader, and they'll likely name anti-apartheid warrior Nelson Mandela or Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen; both deserving, iconic figures.

But the Mother Continent has nurtured centuries of great kings, queens, chiefs and priests whose names and achievements were largely erased from memory when colonialism disrupted oral history traditions and scattered biographical objects.

Curator Alisa LaGamma and the Metropolitan Museum of Art spent the past four years tracking down more than 100 sculptures, masks and photographs created in West and Central Africa between the 12th and early 20th centuries, drawing them from 40 collections across Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Portugal, France and the United States.

And they didn't stop there. The new exhibit, "Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures," not only gathers rare pieces never before seen in the United States (and in some cases, reunites sculptures that have been separated for centuries), but its curator has taken great pains to actually name the men and women depicted in these pre-colonial masterpieces.

"We are taking an unusual approach: We've taken some very, very famous pieces of African art, and some rare pieces, and we've tried to identify the people who are the subjects of those pieces," says LaGamma, curator of the department of the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.

"These are the celebrities of historic African culture that were highly influential, and were considered to be important and notable figures that deserved to be depicted," she says. "We've included the stories that we know, but many were lost because they were passed down orally, and a lot of that was not recorded when the continent was colonized."

Chief Nosa Isekhure, the isekhure of Benin. (Courtesy Phyllis Galembo and Steven Kasher Gallery)

The exhibit focuses on eight sub-Saharan realms, including the Akan peoples of Ghana, the Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria, the Bangwa and Kom chiefdoms of the Cameroon grasslands, and the Chokwe of Angola and Zambia.

It opens with the famous ivory Queen Mother pendant mask immortalizing Queen Idia, warrior and mother of Oba Esigie, one of Benin's most dynamic kings. Esigie's early 16th century claim to the throne was contested by his brother, and he credited his mother's political prowess and magical powers for his ­success.

"She became his most trusted adviser," explains LaGamma. The elaborately detailed and realistic mask is hollowed to be filled with powerful medicines and herbs. "This would have been worn around his neck or waist like a pendant or locket," says LaGamma. "It's an ­amulet protecting him, and also a ­portrait honoring his mother.".

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October 4, 2011

Today In History

‘Hubert G. (H. Rap) Brown, writer, activist, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Chairman, was born in Baton Rouge, LA, on this date October 4, 1943. Brown has changed his name to Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.’

: Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin)