Title: Reverand Frank Shuttlesworth [CRSTA 8]
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Title: Reverand Frank Shuttlesworth CRSTA 8
Series Title: Reverand Frank Shuttlesworth CRSTA 8
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C: How did you become involved in the St. Augustine crisis?

S: Well, by becoming one, by being one of the principals in the

Civil Rights movement with Dr. King and Abernathy and

Lowery, and the others...

C: Yeah.

S: And we felt that it was unnecessary in my view movement by

the, then ... known personalities of the movement put in an


C: Were you still in Birmingham at the time?

S: Yes.

C: I see.

S: Well, no, I was in Tallahassee, was in sixty-...

C: St. Augustine was 64 .

S: 64 I was living in Cincinnati. My relatives were there

but I was still in Birmingham. Had charge of the Alabama

Christian Movement and I was in Birmingham more than here

because I had so many legal cases to resolve.

E: Right, right. Just out of curiosity, background... you were

affiliated with what church in Birmingham?

S: I was pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in North

Birmingham, which was bombed twice.

C: Right. And, you were the chief organizer of the

Birmingham...the demonstrations, is that correct? In 63?

S: One of them.

C: One of them. OK. Why, how did SCLC get involved in St.

Augustine, do you Know?

S: Well, I think it was Dr. Hayling then. Now, he was the head

of the local Civil Rights group there, and requested to come

down. And, of course, all those requests go to Dr. King and

the board, you see. And the decision was reached to go

down. I guess they started off sending the staff in and

then the principals started going in.

C: Who were the SCLC leaders in St. Augustine? The ones who

were directly in charge?

S: Well, let's see. Hosea Williams was one, because he and I

led several nights marches there. C.T. Vivian was one. He

and I led the march, one of the marches which went to the

river. We went swimming when the desegregation order was

being...go ahead.

C: What was SCLC after in St. Augstine, do you think?

S: Well, generally what we would be after in everything, to

alert people, to get people to move on toward their rights.

I think here the beaches were segregated and the restaurants

and so forth were segregated, and of course, there was the

Klan riding around at this local sheriff's deputy possee and

so forth, so we had to do all of that, so we come up police

brutality there and human rights.

C: Um hum. Was there an attempt to keep pressure on Congress

with the 64 Civil Rights Act being considered at that


S: Yes, yes, definitely.

C: Um hum. When did you arrive in St. Augustine?

S: I really don't know. I went down, I went down several

times. Come in and stay a day or two and participate and drive

back. Both to Birmingham and Cincinnati.

C: What was the idea behind the night marches?

S: Well, we figured that daytime marches had special value, but

that to do it at night would create more attention, that


C: Um hum.

S: ...keep the community at unrest it decided to do something

about it, and they had to be more protective and so forth so

on. And I might tell you that the police in themselves were

nervous and scared even though they had guns and dogs.

C: Yeah. How would you compare, just out of curiosity, St.

Augustine to Birmingham?

S: Well, the worst riot I ever was in my life was in St.

Augustine, Florida, around that flea market. That was

atrocious, vicious. I think that was that because the

police had allowed their climbing together and get there...

whet up their appetite, like the Indian used to do a war

party-type situation, you know.

C: Right.

S: And sit up on defenseless and helpless people that night

there. But Birminham, by far, was the more difficult and

dangerous situation continuously because of the residual

effects of the Klan because of the atent and patent abuse of

human rights by the police, by the courts, by everything

else. There we did have a federal Judge, who took charge

and followed this thing from day to day, and when we were in

the court, he would leave. Evidently, Hoss Manuey was the

one who arrested me. Manucy was the head of the Klan then.

I didn't know until I had been Jailed that night with those

Jewish rabbis and I was looking at it on tv. I said,

"That's the guy that arrested me."

C: (chuckles) So, was St. Augustine more violent, do you think,

than Birmingham or...

S: No, I can't say it was more violent...

C: Yeah.

S: I just said that particular riot. St. Augustine was not

violent expect for that riot that night and then one on the

beaches where we went to the beaches and the Klan opened up

for us to come in and swim. Of course we had no intention

of swimming--getting out there in deep water and getting

drowned, and most of our people were children.

C: Right.

S: So I said to C. T. Vivian, I said... they said, "Come on in,

niggers." Said, "all right, we're coming," and we would go

and head toward the water, you knows. They were taunting us

and we were just, you know, chatting back. "You all got the

right to swim, dammit come in." I said, "all right, we'll

be there. Just don't worry about it. Get back so we can

come in. Open up." So they got back further out in the

water and opened up a space between them, I guess, for us to

come in there and swim, I guess, which would be about

twenty, fifteen or twenty yards. They were up to breast or

shoulder deep in the water. And so I said to C. T. Vivian,

"we must go into the water, but we ain't going as far as

they are, because I can't swim and I sure am not going to

take the responsibility for drowning these kids." So we

quietly passed the word back through the line, as I remember

that incident. "Follow us. Do what we do." So the Klan

that welcomed us come in, so they got even further back.

Just means that less people got hurt or drowned, hurt that

day. They got further back, so we went, just as we were

going into the day. They got further back, so we went, just

as we were going into the water, going straight to it, then

as soon as we went, just as we were going into the water,

going straight to it, then as soon as we got about ankle-

deep, I said, "Left face," and we all started to turn back,

coming out of the water. And the Klansmen ran, some of

them, hit two or three. Then the policemen moved in to

break it up and this was another vicious situation.

C: What were the...

S: One policemen was up on top of a car, bashing heads, at

those times, with billy sticks. And they were trying to get

to him to kill him. They were mad because we had the right

to swim.


C: Did... how were the police in St. Augustine? We they very


S: Well, I think they were helpful when they had to be.

C: Yeah

S: You know, they didn't particularly cherish patrolling and

guarding us. I'm sure that no policeman likes to beat the

head of another white person.

C: Right.

S: But...

C: That was Sheriff Davis

S: ...they were under orders and I think that the mistake in

many of these things is allowing these people to get so

violent and whip their appetites and emotions up until they

have to really spill over into violence. I think that's,

that's the key to most of the problems that broke out in the

South, Klan and other things. If you move people along at a

certain time, you might, you know, avert some of the

violence that was done.

C: You, they had these two fellows--Stoner, and Connie Lynch in

St. Augstine. Were they also in Birmingham? They were,

Stoner was the Klansman and Lynch was the...

S: Yeah, well, I think he lived in Atlanta. I never met them

personally. I presume that they came, you know, the

Klansmen had a knack for roaming around, I guess, for wrong,

just like we'd kind of roam around and do for rights. I

would imagine.

C: Yeah. So you never, you never heard them speak or ran into


S: No, no. I understand there was a Klan rally there.

C: Yeah, there was.

S: Hailey or somebody went to it and they beat him up. I don't

remember who it was.

C: Well, he rode by and got, he got waylaid by the Klansmen who

saw him riding by. How about the community as a whole? Did

you get any cooperation at all from the white leadership in

the community?

S: Not to my knowledge in the community?

C: Yeah.

S: I don't remember. And then I wasn't in charge of that day-

to-day situations like that. Somebody who was in charge and

stayed there awhile like C. T. Vivian or Hosea Williams or

Bernard Lee or Abernathy or some of them would have known

more about that than I would.

C: Yeah. How about success in St. Augustine? Do you ... Was

there a general feeling that SCLC had gained a victory for

the black community in St. Augstine?

S: Well, I'm certain that, yes, of course we had the

contributors, by getting the legal victims, by getting the

Klan defused, by...

C: The Civil Rights Act was, of course, passed.

S: And I want to go back. There were some white people who

came, who cooperated, but I think these, most of them were

whites who came from without. And then we had the priest,

the rabbis, who went to jail with us who considered it an

honor in those days to go jail with the priest. And some

others. There was one girl, a white girl I believe who was

from the local community. I'm not sure. I can't be sure if

they were. I don't want to give the impression there was

absolutely no white cooperation, but I think most of it, as,

there as in other places, came from the outside.

C: Um hum. Talked about the federal movement? Were they very


S: Well, in moving the court situation. See, we had gotten

from Birmingham and Montogomery and Sela, we had gotten the

ferdal government enforcing agent of the government involved,

so they could move into court quickly and get people that

law enforcement officials would do their duty. Now, that

was by far the most important situation.

C: Yeah.

S: In enforcing rights, see.

C: Did...

S: The justice department moved pretty quickly there.

C: Was the justice department, say, as cooperative as it had

been in Birmingham or were they very cooperative in


S: Well, I think they were, they were cooperative to the limit

of their thin understand as to what the role of the justice

department should be in the government, you know. I wonder

why none of FBI agents couldn't do anything expect stand up

and look and take notes.

C: Right.

S: Martin Luther King used to kick me when he'd stand there,

take notes, great note takers. He'd tell you exactly how

many blows you took before you fell. (Chuckles) But then

under Robert Kennedy, you see, and Teddy Kennedy the justice

department began to move actually and get the agents

involved a little bit more. Of course, within limits.

C: Yeah.

S: Always deferring to local officials to using marshals when

they had to. They insure that the agents would not just

stand by and see anybody get killed, you know.

C: Um hum. How did, how did SCLC decide where, what

communities to go into in a particular year?

S: Well, that's usually the board and staff decision.

C: Um hum. And so they'd have a bunch of letters from various


S: Or request and phone calls. People would community directly

with Dr. King. You didn't just get a letter and go into a

community. You had to have some close-up conversation and

really get the feel that, that something is needed, and then

here is someplace we could go where we could make a is

needed, and then here is someplace we could go where we

could make a witness which would be both moving, moving and

meaningful. And could be seen by the country as getting

some things won, you Know.

C: Right. So did they try to go with one major community?

S: Yes. Well, we didn't be in two, three places at one time.

C: Ok. Was that decided from the start really to go with one

community, say, as to Montgomery, or was that a later


S: Do what?

C: Was it decided early on in history of the SCLC to go with

one community or did that sort of develop after you tried

several communities and found that it didn't work that way?

S: Well, the limitations in staff and what we could do, Dr.

King's time, mine, Ralph Abernathy and others, were meeded

at many speaking engagments, just almost synthesized that we

had to limit and concentrate ourselves on one basic job at a

time. Now there would be follow-up in one community or

there might be people, some as staff and some going in to

other communities, speaking and doing things and encouraging

people. Or even some of us could be doing that, but the

major activity had to be confined because of resources to

basically one area at a time.

C: Was there a real feeling or fear in SCLC that it was very

important to keep the movement non-violent so that violence

wouldn't spread among the black America at least.

S: Oh, definitely, we felt that by all means. And wish that it

could have been kept that way. We wish that the country

could have responded to nonviolence before this violent

content became evident and too many people hurt and go jail

records and disillusioned on this false concept of black

power and so forth.

C: I was wondering, how old were you in 1963? Four '64 ?

S: Well, I had to be, let's see, I was born in 22, so you

subtract. Probably forty-two then.

C: And how did you, how did you become involved in the Civil

Rights Movement originally?

S: Well, that's a long story but it can be shortened by saving

when I went to Bethel Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama

in 63, I immediately started dealing in my own church and

voting registration and community progress, and I was

real... a driving force then. I got other members of the

community to do the same, and then I worked with Civic

League across Jefferson Country. Became known that way.

C: Um hum.

S: And then I was good, a pretty good speaker and I was invited

to do the NAACP Emancipation address. The first year, I

think two years straight they elected me as membership

chairman, which gave me access to people because I was

already known. And then I was membership chairmen when

NAACP was outlawed in 1956, in May. Now, also, before this

or during this time, before I was elected membership

chairmen, the first big headline, I guess I got it in

Birmingham, was that when I got fifty-five minister to sign

for Negro police, fill out their Negroes at that time. In

'55, that was a little bit before the MIA stared its

boycott. So that's how I got involved and of course, with

the funding of my...with the outlawing of the Alabama..of

the NAACP in Alabama, of course I called a mass meeting June

5, 1966, and organized the local movement and then went on

to national meeting and many a group still does meet, and

then, and we started attacking segregation. My philosophy

was that the best defense was a great offense and if all

segregation. My philosophy was perhaps best being used in

situations when the orangizers filed their first lawsuit

contending...... One of the men said to me, "now we've got

that thing started, let's sit back and see how that comes

out." I immediately said to him without thinking too well

that we had to continue to protest. But I mean, put a lot

egg because that egg spoils and you've wasted your chaveer.

But I mean, put a lot of eggs in the basket, somebody will

hatch out. And so we went in railroad station, pashas and,

anything else. The courthouse was when you had to go into

massive demonstrations, be down at the courthouse and decide

that the citizens are going to be down there and desecrate

the courteous. Then, we had the bus situation that started

in Montgomery and also into Birmimingham.

C: Is that when you first got to know Dr. king or had you known


S: No, I knew him before in Montgomery that same site. We had

talked that year occasionally, but met, naturally, and of

course we were there when they organized that night to start

getting together to demastriate. So then, after Birmingham

became so big, we got started, we had fought and won several

legal victories and they would become pyrrhic victories

because the law would be frustrated by the courts and the

judges so that we began talking with SCLC and others about a

confrontation. That's why the massive demonstrations were,

we'd build around, even that people had to be moved enmasse

for their rights. That to confront the system, we had to

massively rise up non-violently. And really create turmoil

in the sense to create attention in the community. You

can't operate normally with segregation. And that

Birmingham was the best place because of good climate and

having establish as a citadel and because the next thing is

being a type of a strong person, I gusset I...they called me

strong. I don't know what I was, I was a fool maybe. The

Klan couldn't run me out. You know, they burned my house,

blew the house down around my head. I didn't run out and

leave town. And I had established a trust among the people

whereas if I ever told them I was going to do any one thing,

I would do it, because there was no doubt that if they

people respected and would follow, because the few that

would follow me in danger, you know, they would stick with

me, you know. So that's, that's just a decision to make

this massive confrontation in Birmingham because we said we

said in Birmingham goes, so goes the nation.

C: Right.

S: And it did.

C: Right. What, where did you, had you come from before you

went to Birmingham?

S: I was born in Montgomery, Alabama, but I didn't...they

brought me to Jefferson Country when I was a Kid, baby. So

I was raised up around Birmingham. Oxmore, about ten miles

from Birmingham, all my life in the rural.

C: Had you gone, had to gone to college or religious school?

S: When I was in Biramingham?

C: Yeah.

S: In '43, in 140, in 1940, I finished high school in

Louisville. I married in '41 when I was 19. Worked for

two or three years at the cement plant there. Then I went

to Mobile, Alabama to get started on defense work. Got a

job with the government. The only schooling I'd had beyond

high school then was I started going to night school because

I felt the call to the ministry. And the, I worked for the

government until '47 when I quit to go to school at Selma

University to begin my college work, Selma University in

Selma, Alabama, the black belt, where we had the '65 voting

riots there. I went there in '47. I began pasturing two

churches--one on the east side, rural church and one on the

west side in '48. And then in I was going to school at

Selma University. At that time it became practical for

people not with a degree to get a C certification, and I

felt that if I got that along with my two little churches

salaries, I could make a living. So I immediately left

Selma University on the spur of the moment and went to

Alabama State. Made very high grades there for a year,

three quarters. While I was there, I commuted back to

Selma, to my local churches, and all of a sudden, the large

churches there, the First Baptist Church, which

incidentally, a storm tore it up in January of this year,

but, the minister suddenly left First Baptist Church in

October of '50, and I was well-thought of in the church for

coming up there. And the deacons asked me to temporarily

serve until they got ready to send out and get somebody.

'Course I preached there from October until May. Preached

every morning and then go right immediately to my other

country churches. And in May they called me, so I stayed

there from May until '50 to '52, and that's how I became,

you know, involved there. And then I went back to Selma

University and I'm back there now. Got my AB degree at

Selma that I have, and then I went, commuted back to

Montomery and got my BS degree. In '60 I was on a Master's

degree. So that's, that's where I am now.

C: Right. Who are on the board of directors of the SCLC?

Besides Dr. Aber...Reverend Abenathy...

S: I don't know. You'd have to get some of the minutes because

there's a lot of people.

C: Right.

S: David from Louisiva, Anderson from Baton Rouge...

C: How often do they meet, once a year?

S: Johnson from Mississippi. The board meets in April, and

SCLC meets in August. at a convention.

C: I see. Ok, well, listen, I thank you for your time.

S: All right.

C: And I really appreciate the information.

S: Ok, if there's any publication, you know, write the group,

give me a copy of it.

C: I certainly will.

S: What's your name again?

C: David Colburn, C-O-L-B-U-R-N. I'm at the University of


S: Where?

C: University of Florida.

S: And you're doing this for what?

C: I'm writing a book for Columbia University Press.

S: Oh, Ok.

C: On the St. Augustine Civil Rights crisis.

S: All right.

C: And I'll send you a copy.

S: Would you?

C: When I finish. Sure will.

S: Thank you.

C: Thanks for your time. 'Bye.

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