BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — When a little-known Baptist preacher named Martin Luther King took the helm of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1955, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was already in Birmingham trying to start a movement but nobody was paying attention.
Shuttlesworth was from a small church. His credentials and pedigree made it easy for local whites to dismiss him as a radical. Until King came to Birmingham, Shuttlesworth couldn't get the national press to recognize his city as the embodiment of the horrors of the segregated South.
He was just another black preacher getting beat up, said former Atlanta mayor, congressman and United Nations ambassador Andrew Young, who worked alongside King and Shuttlesworth in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. All three men helped establish the organization in 1957.
It was King who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and went on to become the icon of the civil rights movement. King was assassinated in 1968.
Shuttlesworth, who was overshadowed in life by his comrade in the movement, was again eclipsed by King in death.
Though he died nearly three weeks ago, Shuttlesworth is only now being buried. The reason for the delay: The dedication of the King Memorial on the National Mall, sending most of Shuttlesworth's civil rights colleagues to Washington last weekend.
Had they not been there, they would have likely been in Birmingham remembering Shuttlesworth.
“His friends and Martin's friends were the same,” Young said. “But you don't have two memorials at the same time if you want your friends to come.”
Shuttlesworth's funeral was on Oct. 17, a day after the King Memorial was dedicated at the National Mall in Washington.