Posted by: morgan1965 | October 6, 2011

Two Great Americans: Fred Shuttlesworth and Steve Jobs

Two deaths were reported on Wednesday, October 5, 2011, that arrested my attention. Fred Shuttlesworth, a civil rights leader, died at the age of 89. Steve Jobs, an Apple co-founder, died at the age of 56. Both men had a unique impact on America and the world in which they lived.

One CNN reporter indicated that Steve Jobs “gave the world what it did not know that it wanted or needed.” On the other hand, Fred Shuttlesworth helped the nation to attain what it knew that it did not want – equal rights for all of its citizens.

Rev. Shuttlesworth, a former truck driver, studied religion in night school and became pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1953. He was bombed, beaten and arrested on numerous occasions as he engaged in the fight for civil rights. He emerged as an articulate and outspoken leader in the struggle for racial equality in America. Rev. Shuttlesworth was jailed because he tried to make a difference in the arena of human and civil rights. During the turbulent years of the civil rights movement, he went to jail more than 30 times. He survived the bombing of his house in 1956. Shuttlesworth also survived chest injuries sustained when Birmingham City authorities turned fire hoses on demonstrators in 1963

Steve Jobs has been described by Apple as “a visionary and creative genius.” Under his innovative leadership, Apple introduced the iPod, iPhone and the iPad to the world. These technological innovations have revolutionized the world of personal electronics and communication. Jobs partnered with Steve Wozniak in 1976 and they founded Apple Computer in 1976. Over time, they began to sell computers in volume to “regular people.”

Both Jobs and Shuttlesworth had a way of connecting to regular people. Jobs connected with a public that began to buy Apple products. Suttlesworth connected with African Americans who determined that they would no longer endure segregation. In both instances, there was a new freedom – a freedom to communicate in new ways (Jobs), and the freedom to live life as a human being (Shuttlesworth).

Steve Jobs was the face and the backbone of Apple, Inc. In the case of Shuttlesworth, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the face of the civil rights movement, while Shuttlesworth worked in the “trenches.” Both men, however, were difference makers.

It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who reminded the world that longevity of life is not the most important dynamic in life, although desirable. Fred Shuttlesworth lived a long life, 89 years, while Steve Jobs lived to the age of 56 years. These two very different leaders, however, had a significant impact on their world. The world is a better place because Steve Jobs and Fred Shuttlesworth lived among us.


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