Hundreds fill Shuttlesworth's church to pay tribute to his life

AVONDALE, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati honored a civil rights icon at the church he founded more than 40 years ago.

Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth died October 5, 2011. Last week he was laid to rest in Birmingham, Alabama but Saturday afternoon his Cincinnati family came together to honor him.

Shuttlesworth was an active member of the Civil Rights movement in the South.

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, he moved to Cincinnati in 1961 where he continued his fight for equal rights in the Queen City, founding the Greater New Light Baptist Church in Avondale.

More than 500 people filled the church Saturday afternoon to listen and share stories about his life and more importantly keep his mission alive.

"Because Shuttlesworth stood up, we too must stand," said one of the dozens of speakers that took time to share their perspective on the reverend, father, grandfather, friend and inspiration.

"He's shown people what you need to do to fight for equality and justice," says church member Jerry Smith.

A Civil Rights leader known as "the engineer that paved the road" for equality, broke down segregation and guaranteed all citizens the right to vote.

"I didn't used to vote but after meeting him I voted every time...because people lost their lives for that and you just never know until you really talk to somebody who has really been through that," says Libby Brown.

His cousin Maureen Forte traveled from Chicago to ensure his work in the South and the Midwest would not be forgotten.

"If you don't exercise the right that someone fought so hard for you to have you have no right to complain so I hope they take everything from Birmingham to Cincinnati," says Forte.

Described as fearless and cool, the family he created within the church and even he own rejoiced over his lasting legacy in Birmingham and Cincinnati.

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