6 Oct 2011

US civil rights leader dies

10:44 pm on 6 October 2011

The man once described by Martin Luther King Junior as the most courageous civil rights fighter in the American south, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, has died.

He was 89, and had been ill for some time.

Reverend Shuttlesworth was beaten for his public stances against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1950s and 60s, Reuters reports.

He refused to relent even after his home was bombed on Christmas Day in 1956. He and his family escaped unharmed.

Reverend Shuttlesworth helped organise 1965's historic march in Alabama for voting rights on a day that became known as "Bloody Sunday" because of the brutal police response to the demonstration.

That, and the subsequent march led by Martin Luther King, influenced the signing of America's Voting Rights Act later that year.