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A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth (Religion & American Culture)

Manis, Andrew M

Verlag: University Alabama Press, 1999
ISBN 10: 0817309683 / ISBN 13: 9780817309688
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Titel: A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights ...

Verlag: University Alabama Press

Erscheinungsdatum: 1999

Zustand: very good


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This first biography of Fred Shuttlesworth-winner of both the 2000 Lillian Smith Award and the 2001 James F. Sulzby Jr. Award-details the fascinating life of the controversial preacher who led integration efforts in Birmingham with the courage and fervor of a religious crusader.

When Fred Shuttlesworth suffered only a bump on the head in the 1956 bombing of his home, members of his church called it a miracle. Shuttlesworth took it as a sign that God would protect him on the mission that had made him a target that night. Standing in front of his demolished home, Shuttlesworth vigorously renewed his commitment to integrate Birmingham's buses, lunch counters, police force, and parks. The incident transformed him, in the eyes of Birmingham's blacks, from an up-and-coming young minister to a virtual folk hero and, in the view of white Birmingham, from obscurity to rabble-rouser extraordinaire.

From his 1956 founding of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights through the historic demonstrations of 1963, driven by a sense of divine mission, Shuttlesworth pressured Jim Crow restrictions in Birmingham with radically confrontational acts of courage. His intensive campaign pitted him against the staunchly segregationist police commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor and ultimately brought him to the side of Martin Luther King Jr. and to the inner chambers of the Kennedy White House.

First published in 1999, Andrew Manis's award-winning biography of "one of the nation's most courageous freedom fighters" demonstrates compellingly that Shuttleworth's brand of fiery, outspoken confrontation derived from his prophetic understanding of the pastoral role. Civil rights activism was tantamount to salvation in his understanding of the role of Christian minister.

Rezension: Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. are the most well known figures of the civil rights movement that emerged in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1950s, but in Andrew M. Manis's well-documented book, the contributions of the fiery Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, founder of the Alabama Movement for Human Rights, finally come to light. Manis paints a portrait of a God-fearing (but otherwise fearless) preacher cut in the mold of rebel slave leader Nat Turner, whose lawsuits, sit-ins of train and bus stations, and defiant pulpit orations helped tear down segregation in the South. But the reverend always had a firm sense of community: "Shuttlesworth conducted his civil rights activities with his hands still tightly grasping the pastoral reins of his local church," Manis writes. "His concern for social justice was central to his 'care of souls' and prophetic proclamation." Manis also shows the reader the professional and personal costs of Shuttlesworth's activities, from the 1956 bombing of his home to the constant tension with more conservative religious leaders in a community that considered his activism dangerous. In the end, however, Shuttlesworth's deeds earned him the praise of Birmingham's citizens, the beneficiaries of his courageous campaigns for equality. A Fire You Can't Put Out is a blazing blueprint pointing the way for future generations of activists to continue the struggle. --Eugene Holley Jr.

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