Forged by Fire. Guided by Faith.’ premieres on APT

Forged by Fire. Guided by Faith.’ premieres on APT

A new documentary for Alabama Public Television explores the life and legacy of a relentless freedom fighter who inspired liberation movements around the world.

To celebrate his 100th birthday, APT is showing an original film about Birmingham civil rights activist Fred Shuttlesworth on Tuesday, December 20 at 8pm. Shuttlesworth: Forged by Fire. Guided by faith. features exclusive interviews with the late Birmingham icon, family members and colleagues, and delves deep into Shuttlesworth’s pivotal contributions to the civil rights movement.

APT presents a premiere of the documentary at the historic Carver Theater in Birmingham on Thursday 15th December at 6pm. The free event will be followed by a discussion with the film’s producers and other guests. Learn more here.

“Shuttlesworth helped define the national consciousness in the mid to late 20th century and into the 21st century and reinforced the integral role played by Birmingham as a catalyst to bring the movement onto the national stage,” said Mike McKenzie, APT Director of Programming and Public Information.

Beginning with his segregated childhood in the Oxmoor Valley, the documentary “Shuttlesworth” follows the pastor’s work through Bethel Baptist Church, the Birmingham Campaign and the reactionary violence unleashed by the city’s white power structure in the 1960s, McKenzie said. Through this lens, Shuttlesworth examines the city of Birmingham, its unique history and culture, and how the city came to be a symbol of social justice and the American civil rights movement.

Shuttlesworth was born March 18, 1922 and died October 5, 2011. He co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and helped establish the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights after the state of Alabama banned the NAACP in 1956. Shuttlesworth worked on the side by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and many other leaders fighting racism in Alabama and America. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport was named after him in 2008.

Shuttlesworth features interviews with a variety of authors, experts and community and political leaders including former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, Martha Bouyer, former US District Judge UW Clemon, Robert Corley, Andrew Manis, the Pulitzer Honoree Diane McWhorter and Janice Kelsey, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, Bishop Calvin Woods and Odessa Woolfolk, Director Emeritus of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

On Christmas Day 1956, dynamite planted by the Ku Klux Klan destroyed the Shuttlesworth home, but the family miraculously escaped unharmed. “He was certain that he was saved by God to lead a movement,” McKenzie said.

Klansmen attacked Shuttlesworth and his wife Ruby in 1957 when they tried to enroll their children in an all-white public school in Birmingham. The following year, a bomb was removed from under Bethel Baptist before detonating. In 1960, Shuttlesworth participated in sit-ins at separate public food counters, and the next year he helped organize the Freedom Rides. He vowed to “kill segregation or be killed by it”.

Shuttlesworth starred in the seminal television documentary series Eyes on the Prize in 1987 and Freedom Riders in 2010. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Birmingham.

The new documentary was produced in collaboration with the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the City of Birmingham and Historic Bethel Baptist Church, McKenzie said. This was made possible with support from the Alabama Humanities Alliance, Alabama Power Foundation, Medical Properties Trust, Comer Foundation, Robert R. Meyer Foundation, Mike & Gillian Goodrich Foundation and the Alabama Civil Rights Trail.

(Courtesy of the Alabama Newscenter)

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