Remembering Rev. Shuttlesworth

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  • How many times have we mouthed the lyrics to “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “Oh Freedom” and “We Shall Overcome” without really thinking about the meaning of the words – let alone actually imagining or recalling what it was like to sing them while in the trenches?

    Celebrating the legacy of Dr. Fred Shuttlesworth stirs up the emotion, the pain, and the victory behind the words to these protests songs and brings them to life.

    When we look at all that Dr. Shuttlesworth accomplished, it is clear that his journey moved us forward. It’s been said over and over that he walked the walk, but that is an understatement.

    Reverend Shuttlesworth marched the march.

    Walking is one thing, but marching is something else.

    You can take a walk, a stroll, a stride through life and barely get your heart rate up. You can be unfocused and daydream your way to your destination. But, marching requires a lot more. To march is to move forward with deliberate motion, standing tall, shoulders back, head up high. Proud, courageous, determined.

    Marching is walking with a purpose!

    Dr. Shuttlesworth bravely marched through life, through battlefields, minefields and firestorms – never looking back, never giving up, never getting turned around.

    He boldly and triumphantly led a movement that changed the world and, when the time was right, humbly stepped out of the limelight for the sake of the movement. In the end, he knew it was less about him and more about freedom and equality.

    They don’t make leaders like that anymore.

    As we approach the November 2012 election and the elections before and after, let’s think of the Reverend Shuttlesworths, the Dr. Kings, the Rev. Abernathy’s, the John Lewises. Let’s use the momentum of today’s celebration of life to march us toward the polls.

    The generations born after the civil rights movement seem to think that they missed out on something and that they will never have the opportunity to be part of something great.

    Well, let me tell you something: Rev. Shuttlesworth didn’t set out to do something great; he set out to do something right. We all have that opportunity, and it starts with one step. If you know someone who isn’t registered to vote, take down this number: 1-866-MY-VOTE-1.

    Don’t take it lightly. Every time you decide not to take part in an election, you’re denigrating the work of the many whose shoulders we stand on. Let’s not get distracted. Let’s not get thrown off. Let’s not get turned around.

    This is our movement; this is our moment. Not some day, but now.

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