A Tale of Two Visionaries

Two of the familiar, white computers are sitting across the coffee shop from me. Taunting me with their half-eaten glowing apples, durability, and accessible features. It’s one of the legacies of the recently-deceased Steve Jobs, of course. Great audio and visual, pioneering in home-movie making tech, being an alternative and a complete package – hardware, operating system, web browser, music store and player – really only lacking in office software.

Of course, Jobs wasn’t the only pioneer to pass this week. His revolution may have captured the hearts (and wallets) of millions of Americans, but the revolution that the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth helped to cull in his Birmingham captured the moral conscience of a nation.

While most (white) Americans only link King and Parks with the Civil Rights movement, there were many brilliant, determined people with less prominent roles in front of the cameras, but just as significant – if not more so – behind the scenes. Shuttlesworth hunkered down to get federal protection for the Freedom Riders and while his city was the base for anti-Black campaigns led by the action and sanctioning of Sheriff Bull Connor, Shuttlesworth was able to convince Dr. King that he could rekindle his troops in Bombingham.

The rest, as they say, is history that turned America’s sympathies towards Southern recepients of the brutal Jim Crow violence. While children and teens (and then growing ranks of adults) were being hosed down, sicced on by police dogs and dragged off to jail, he was their sarge, their inspiration.

All we have to do is keep on marching… Do tomorrow what we did today, and do it the next day, and the next day we won’t have to do it at all.

Steve had a hand in individualizing culture. Of making every person his own personal DJ and portable radio station. Personally, I’m more a fan of shared music, of innovative radio and streaming dj’s. But I suppose it’s hard to make a profit off of that, eh? Shuttlesworth’s genius was in pushing for a confrontation, believing in the shared humanity of all of us – that if we could see the evil being propagated in our midst, maybe our souls would be stirred to do something about it…

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