See new powerful Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth mural in downtown Birmingham [PHOTOS]

Blank Space
(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Birmingham has a new stunningly powerful mural downtown featuring civil rights hero Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

Legal Services Alabama (LSA) and Blank Space Bham teamed up to create the painting which is on a wall of the LSA Birmingham office at 1820 7th Ave.

The Idea

“About two years ago Legal Services approached my company Blank Space and asked about the possibility of doing something on their wall, ” said Meghan McCollum of Blank Space.

 Near Birmingham City Hall and the newly renovated Greyhound station, LSA wanted to utilize the space not only to bring art to the community, but draw attention to the work that they do as a legal aid service — capturing the ethos of how they practice law through the concepts of justice, fairness and hope, McCollum told Bham Now.

“They charged me with figuring out a way to embody that.” she said. When I was thinking through what that could look like, and especially situated where it (mural) was, there really was no better version of who could capture that other than Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth.”

Who Was Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth?

Birmingham Alabama
Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, civil rights pioneer (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

Shuttlesworth was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1957, he and his wife Ruby were assaulted by a mob of klansmen trying to enroll their children into  Phillips High School. He led sit-ins and participated in the Freedom Rides. Shuttlesworth was also instrumental in the 1963 Birmingham Campaign, which is being commemorated this year by the city of Birmingham.

Champions for Justice – Shuttlesworth and LSA

“LSA is proud to host this mural of civil rights icon Rev. Shuttlesworth,” says Guy Lescault, LSA Executive Director. “He was a champion for justice, and we work every day at LSA to uphold his legacy through support of people with low-incomes in all 67 counties of the state.”

LSA closed over 16,000 cases in Alabama last year, with over 3,000 closed in Birmingham. Each case represents an Alabamian who is held back by the structural problems of poverty, with a majority also representing people who experience a race-based disparity when seeking justice.

Beautiful Portrait

(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

The mural is a collaboration between artists Megham McCollum and Jamie Bonfiglio.

“She and I worked on different iterations of the design. Ultimately she came up with this beautiful portrait of Reverend Shuttlesworth. I focused on capturing the essence of the symbols of what makes us think of his work and who he was,” McCollum added.

See the Completed Mural – Support the Effort

Blank Space
(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

The mural was finished on Sunday, April 23rd. It took about a week to complete.

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help offset the costs of developing and finishing the mural. You can also learn more about the important work of LSA, the artists and the legacy of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. 

Visit the campaign —HERE.

Do you have a favorite mural in downtown Birmingham? Tell us on social media you favorite image by tagging us @bhamnow

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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