Marching beside Martin Luther King Jr. on the streets of downtown Birmingham, Ala., in 1963, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was a leader of the civil rights movement to end segregation in schools and voting.
More than three decades later, Shuttlesworth still vividly recalls the threats made against his life as he participated in sit-ins and marches, and the bombing of his home in Birmingham which he miraculously survived. Many years later, he is still fighting the same battle to ensure equality between blacks and whites in the United States.
The leader of the Greater New Light Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Shuttlesworth spoke yesterday at the University about the need to maintain the current affirmative action admissions policies, which will be heard in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in his hometown next Thursday.
“I don”t think the world could exist without affirmative action,” Shuttlesworth said. “If someone falls behind and you help to pick them up, that”s affirmative action.”
In a lecture yesterday at the Michigan Union, Shuttlesworth urged students to travel to Cincinnati next week and rally in support of affirmative action.
“You can”t sit back and allow the forces of nature to do what you are suppose to do. When the hour calls, you must rise to meet the challenge of your day,” he said.
LSA junior Agnes Aleobua said she plans to travel to Cincinnati with several busloads of students.
“We”re very thankful that Reverend Shuttlesworth answered our call to come here,” Aleobua said. “We have a joint conception of what needs to be done with regard to preserving affirmative action and the role that students can play.”
Shuttlesworth said he does not feel students today are as active as they should be in fighting for equal rights, but he believes affirmative action is a worthy cause.
“Students, college students especially, ought to be able to make a decision about what kind of country they want to live in,” Shuttlesworth said.
With education, he said, comes a responsibility to improve society. “Don”t adjust to what society is. If you become educated just to look like society then you”ve been miss educated.”
Not all students who attended Shuttlesworth”s lecture came to reaffirm their faith in affirmative action. LSA senior Joe Chang came looking for another perspective on the issue.
“Shuttlesworth has historical perspective from first-hand involvement,” Chang said.
LSA junior Elizabeth Zambricki attended the event to reevaluate her thoughts about the issue.
Zambricki said that while her Bloomfield Hills high school was diverse, she was opposed to all forms of affirmative action when she first came to the University. But she said discussions in her classes and at lectures has made her change her mind.
“I think affirmative action based on economic background is a good idea,” she said. “I used to be anti-affirmative action, but my views are starting to change.”
Daily Staff Reporter April Effort
contributed to this report.