Following the death of Steve Jobs, Facebook, Twitter and the Internet in general were flooded with sad posts of people saying how they would miss him, and that he was one of the greatest minds the world has ever seen. Some even called him a hero.
While Jobs did accomplish a lot in his life, and was a great leader for Apple, he shouldn’t be called a hero. There are many more people in the world who better deserve the title ‘hero.’
Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth is an example of someone who better fits the description of a hero. He was a preacher in Alabama during the civil rights movement. He spoke with Martin Luther King Jr. He was beaten multiple times, his house was bombed and his family was attacked as he strove to bring racial equality to America. Shuttlesworth died on the same day as Jobs, but news of his death was greatly overshadowed.
King once called Shuttlesworth “the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South.” Shuttlesworth was unshakeable in his determination to end segregation. He told CBS in 1961, “We are determined to either kill segregation, or be killed by it.”
Throughout his life, he was nearly killed several times because of his involvement in the civil rights movement. He was hospitalized after being shot with a fire hose. His house was bombed, with a bomb placed under his bedroom, yet he only had a few minor injuries.
Bull Connors, who was the commissioner for public safety in Birmingham, Ala., during the civil rights movement, once said that Shuttlesworth had caused more trouble than any man who has ever been in Birmingham.
Shuttlesworth rallied members of a group he founded, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, to challenge and defy the practice of segregated bussing. In 1957, during an attempt to integrate an all-white school, Shuttlesworth was beaten with chains and whips. He helped to organize the historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. He also protested segregated lunch counters, and organized sit-ins at diners in the South.
Following his death, President Barack Obama released a statement about his life and the sacrifices he made. Obama said that he “dedicated his life to advancing the cause of justice for all Americans. He was a testament to the strength of the human spirit. And today we stand on his shoulders, and the shoulders of all those who marched and sat and lifted their voices to help perfect our union.”
In 2001, Shuttlesworth received the second-highest civilian award, the Presidential Citizens Medal, for his leadership and work in the fight for equality.
It was his determination and will to fight, despite repeatedly being attacked and injured, that helped end segregation. He gave everything he had in the fight for equality, yet his death was glossed over in coverage in comparison to Jobs.
Shuttlesworth died quietly at the age of 89. There weren’t many Facebook posts lamenting Shuttlesworth’s death. Celebrities didn’t chime in to memorialize him, yet he did more for the country than Jobs ever could have, and sacrificed more than most ever have. Shuttlesworth was a true American hero.