Category Archives: Birmingham Civil Rights

100th Birthday Observance of Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth

Historic Bethel Baptist Church, in conjunction with the Greater New Light Baptist Church of Cincinnati, Ohio, will celebrate the 100th birthday of Freedom Fighter, Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, on March 18, 2022. The event will originate out of Cincinnati but will be simulcast in Birmingham. Dr. Carolyn Shuttlesworth, Reverend Shuttlesworth’s youngest daughter, will be in Birmingham for the event. 

Bethel Pastor Thomas L. Wilder has asked Mayor Randall Woodfin and a few other dignitaries in Birmingham to come and say a few words regarding what Reverend Shuttlesworth’s life and legacy means to Birmingham. The particulars of the celebration are as follows:

5:00 p.m. – Tree planting service at Bethel Baptist Church, 3233 29th Avenue North

5:30 p.m. – Carlton Reese Memorial Choir – New Bethel at 3200 28th Avenue North

6:00 p.m. – Simulcast begins at New Bethel – 3200 28th Avenue North

Reception following the Simulcast

Special thanks to Martha Bouyer, educational coordinator for Bethel Baptist Church and Birmingham Historical Society Trustee

Colored Masonic Temple – A Step Back in Birmingham’s Civil Rights History

Attached is exclusive video from inside the Colored Masonic Temple, also known as the ”Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alabama”, courtesy of photographer Hunter Stone at Leeds Sign. He has been working with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama, for several weeks on a historical documentary project of the Lodge prior to its planned 2022 renovation.

See the Temple filmed in full prior to its planned renovation in 2022. Click HERE to view video if link doesn’t appear below.

Video courtesy of Hunter Stone, Leeds Sign

The Temple is located at 1630 4th Avenue North, among the black owned businesses of the 4th Avenue North historic business district, one of the few areas in Birmingham where black business owners were encouraged in the early 20th century. It was designed by Tuskegee University architect, Robert R. Taylor (who was the first black student to attend MIT), and was completed in 1924 at a total cost of $658,000, debt-free. At the time of its completion, it was the largest, most state of the art facility built and paid for entirely by African Americans in the entire world.

It quickly became the hub of Birmingham’s black community. In addition to housing offices for fraternal groups and business professionals, it included a 2,000 seat auditorium, and housed the Booker T. Washington Library, the first lending library open to black citizens of Birmingham.

Lodge Room – photograph by Lewis Kennedy

In 1932, it was the setting for one of the first major civil rights events in Birmingham in response to the Scottsboro Boys trial. Also known as ”the black skyscraper”, it was designated part of Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument by the National Park Service in 1963 as part of a city-wide desegregation effort.

The building was closed in 2011, but current renovation plans are underway and, upon completion, hopes to once again become the hub of the 4th Avenue business district. Read more about renovation plans HERE and the fundraising campaign HERE