The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, the civil rights icon hailed in his native Alabama as a “black Moses,” died Wednesday. He was 89.

Described in a 1961 CBS documentary as “the man most feared by Southern racists,” Shuttlesworth survived bombings, beatings, repeated jailings and other attacks — physical and financial — in his unyielding determination to heal the country’s most enduring, divisive and volatile chasm.

“They were trying to blow me into heaven,” Shuttlesworth, who spent most of his adult life in Cincinnati, said of those who violently opposed him in Birmingham and throughout the South. “But God wanted me on Earth.”

“Daddy lived an incredible life and now he’s at peace,” said Patricia Shuttlesworth Massengill, his eldest daughter. Massengill, along with her sister Ruby Bester and their brother Fred Shuttlesworth Jr., traveled to Birmingham from Cincinnati on Tuesday and spent about three hours “praying and talking to” their father, whose once thundering voice was silenced several years ago by a stroke. Their other sibling, Carolyn Shuttlesworth, visited their father in a Birmingham hospice last week.

“He couldn’t talk to us, but I hope he heard us,” Massengill said. “I know he did.”

Shuttlesworth’s death removes a civil rights giant who remained a potent advocate for the downtrodden and needy of all colors for decades after he helped blacks secure, if not absolutely equal rights, at least more balanced treatment in a country that grudgingly granted those advances.

Before Rosa Parks refused to give up a bus seat in Montgomery, before four little girls were killed by a bomb at their church in Birmingham, before “Bloody Sunday” in Selma and even before the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became a household name, there was Shuttlesworth

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