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Celebrating the leadership, vision, tenacity, and love of community shared by the recipients of the Great Living Cincinnatian Award, presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967.
It was Christmas, 1956, and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth had gone to bed early in the parsonage of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. Out of the darkness, dynamite exploded outside his bedroom, sending him tumbling through broken glass and lumber into the basement. Incredibly, he and his family survived the malicious bombing.
That incident marked the first of three times Rev. Shuttlesworth was nearly killed fighting segregation. His persistence placed him among “the big three” in the civil rights movement – alongside Dr. Martin Luther King and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.
In 1961, the Alabama native moved to Cincinnati to pastor at the Revelation Baptist Church in the West End, but returned often to Birmingham to lead demonstrations for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Those protests led directly to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
He was pastor at the church he founded in 1966 – the Greater New Light Baptist Church, located on Fred Shuttlesworth Circle in Avondale – until March 19, 2006.
In 1988, Rev. Shuttlesworth established the Shuttlesworth Housing Foundation to award grants of $500 to $2,000 to poverty-level families to assist home purchases. As of November 1999, the foundation has assisted 460 low-income families.
“In the struggle for brotherhood, I consider that I have done so little,” he said. “I wish I could do more and will continue to do all I can until I leave here.”
Rev. Shuttlesworth died on October 5, 2011 at the age of 89 in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.
Recipients are selected from candidates by the Cincinnati Chamber’s senior council based on the following criteria: – Community service – Business and civic attainment on a local, state and national or international level – Leadership – Awareness of the needs of others – Distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization