Interview with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
QUESTION 23
INTERVIEWER:

YOU, YOU HAD A STRONG ORGANIZATION IN ALABAMA, WHY DID, WHY WAS THERE A NEED TO CALL IN KING AND SCLC?

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth:

That's an interesting point. You must remember that we'd been fighting now for quite awhile. And the system always presents itself as if there's no hope and if you win something here, it's made to appear to you as if you haven't won, so the victories were in fact, Pyrrhic. You must remember that before King came to Birmingham we'd been there seven years, we had desegregated terminal station, first case, the buses, many other things. I filed suits against Birmingham, Birmingham was suing me a lot and putting me in jail, but also I was suing them. Shuttlesworth vs. Birmingham got the park, but they closed the park. See, so the victories were Pyrrhic. We decided and SCLC needed something and I said, "Birmingham is where it's at gentlemen. You all must come to Birmingham and let's do this." Coming out of Albany, which was what many people considered not a victory. They needed a victory. Dr. King's image at this time was slightly on the wane because he had not projected. I say, "I assure you if you come to Birmingham, this movement can not only gain prestige, but really shake the country** because if you win in Birmingham, as Birmingham go, so goes the nation." And, and I, we had threatened in literature to fill the jails, we did it in Birmingham. See, we come to Birmingham. So here's where the, idea of confrontation came. Wyatt Walker can explain that, he's the Director, the Executive Director. So we came to Birmingham at my invitation, personal invitation and the board because when I spoke, the board spoke. Basically they believed in me, and we were together. And we invited Dr. King in Birmingham to confront segregation. Massively nonviolent, with our bodies and our souls.