MLK Day, and a pause to honor TWO Civil Rights heroes

MLK Day, and a pause to honor TWO Civil Rights heroes

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(Spider Martin photographs- Estate of Spider Martin)

MLK Day, and a pause to honor TWO Civil Rights heroes

While the nation- and indeed, a good bit of the world- pays tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I stop to pay tribute to two other heroes of the Civil Rights movement. These men are ones without a national holiday in their name or streets in virtually every American town named after them- but played invaluable roles in our nation’s history just the same.

Today, I honor and pay tribute to the memories of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Spider Martin.

The late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth is pictured in the first 5 photos here. An older Rev. Shuttlesworth is shown outside my native Birmingham’s Phillips High School- where his fight to simply get for his children the same quality education every white kid enjoyed caused him a great deal of mental anguish and physical pain. Racists bombed his home not once, but three times- and he’s pictured above beside it after one such bombing.

Shuttlesworth endured countless beatings at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan and others- that’s a younger Shuttlesworth shown on the receiving end of a beating, as well. But if the Klan thought they were going to scare Shuttlesworth into backing down, they thought wrong. If anyone harbored a notion they’d shut Shuttlesworth up, their notions were wrong.

While Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. receives his just accolades for his Letter from Birmingham Jail, that message would never have been received and its effects on our nation never felt had King continued his refusal to come to Birmingham at all. It was Rev. Shuttlesworth‘s battle for integration which many cite as the catalyst for the bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The memories of the “four little girls” who perished in that bombing will remain with us forever- and neither their deaths nor Rev. Shuttlesworth‘s fights were in vain.

As early as 1961, commentator Howard K. Smith called Shuttlesworth “The man most feared by the Southern racist,” and proclaimed that “No history written on the Civil Rights Movement would be complete unless it included the name of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. Rev. Shuttlesworth has given more of himself for the ‘Cause of Freedom’ than any man living today.”

I invite you to learn more about Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth by visiting www.fredshuttlesworthfoundation.org.

The late Spider Martin was a world-class photographer, and one of the Birmingham area’s own. Though small in stature physically, he was nonetheless a giant of the Civil Rights movement. None other than Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself cited the impact Martin had on the movement (and consequently on American life).

In 1965, Dr. King said that “Spider, we could have marched, we could have protested forever, but if it weren’t for guys like you, it would have been for nothing. The whole world saw your pictures. That’s why the Voting Rights Act passed.” Congressman John Lewis (GA) expressed in 1996 that “Spider Martin, more than any other photographer of our time, has used his camera to document the struggle for civil rights and social change in the State of Alabama. In viewing Spider’s collection, one is literally walking through the pages of American history.”

Spider Martin is seen in the photo with Congressman Lewis above, and the other photos above are some of Spider Martin’s shots taken during the historic Selma to Montgomery march. From Selma’s Edmund Pettis Bridge to the event’s culmination and Dr. King’s speech to thousands in Montgomery, Spider Martin was there.

I urge you to learn more about Spider Martin. You can visit http://www.spidermartin.com, a website maintained by his family/estate that has information, a gallery of his photos and more. I’d also urge you to watch the trailer for the upcoming Leaving Selma, which will be released soon as the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the passing of theVoting Rights Act continues. Leaving Selma features the photography of Spider Martin: http://youtu.be/hYG-0LLJ7_M.

In days like these, we can never have too many real heroes. When too many “fight” for all the wrong reasons, let’s take time to remember folks who fought for some right ones. I was fortunate to meet Spider Martin a few times during his time covering the trials of the Klansman convicted of bombing the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church– and found him to be a skilled craftsman with his camera and a humble man. I was blessed to meet Rev. Shuttlesworth around the same time, and rest assured the fight that was in him in the ’50s and ’60s never left him. I’m confident in saying he was a fighter for the cause of right until he breathed his last breath.

May God bless the memories of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Spider Martin today and every day– and may those among us who aren’t familiar with them come to know the contributions they made to our nation and the debt we owe them.

MLK Day, and a pause to honor TWO Civil Rights heroes

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About Dennis Burgess

Dennis B. Burgess Property Manager Licensed Florida Realtor Dennis B. Burgess Licensed Florida Realtor/Property Manager 2016 ORRA Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman 2016 ORRA Property Management Council Chairman The Real Estate Firm of Orlando 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Ste #146 Orlando, FL 32819 Cell: 205-445-4755 Office: 407-581-5550 Fax: 407-581-5551 dburgess@reforlando.com www.reforlando.com Twitter: @orlrentals Turning vacant into occupied, and "houses" into "homes"
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