Yesterday, we lost two major figures of recent American history, Steve Jobs and Fred Shuttlesworth.
The news spread quickly, in Birmingham at least, about Shuttlesworth. For several hours, my Facebook feed was chock full of remembrances and eulogies. They were discussing it on NPR all afternoon too. Shuttlesworth was a true American hero. Kyle Whitmire said on the radio, and I agree with him, that from a global perspective, the Civil Rights movement is probably the most important thing to come out of the United States ever. It happened in the United States, largely, because of events in Birmingham. It happened in Birmingham because of Fred Shuttlesworth.
Sometime in the evening, Steve Jobs passed. The news eclipsed the news about Shuttlesworth, naturally. In recent years, Jobs has certainly been in the news a lot more. Most people have heard of Steve Jobs even if they haven’t heard of Fred Shuttlesworth. There’s no denying that Jobs was probably the Thomas Edison of our time. His impact on the technology industry has been no less than revolutionary. He changed the way we live.
Still, there is something about the coincidence of these two losses happening so close together that bothers me greatly. I don’t want to try to equate the two. I never met Fred Shuttlesworth, and I’m not what you’d call an “Apple fanboy.” So neither of these losses are especially personal to me, but I feel the impact of both deeply. I think the thing is this: I’m a little bit in denial about Steve Jobs until I’ve had some more time to absorb the first loss. If Steve Jobs was the Thomas Edison of our time, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that Reverend Shuttlesworth was something like the Moses.
I suppose I just feel compelled to remind everybody, just not forget that we lost more than one revolutionary this week.