Pardons for civil rights foot soldiers offered in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - They marched, protested and faced dogs and hoses.  Then many of them were cuffed and taken to jail.  Foot soldiers in the 1960's endured much hardship, but Tuesday, Mayor Larry Langford offered pardons to those wrongfully arrested.  While many of the foot soldiers appreciate the gesture, they will not take the pardon for fear it will erase the price they paid.

Yvonne W. Turner said, "I've had all these years of struggling and to be forgiven now is not too much help."  Turner, one of hundreds arrested in the 1960's and says she was proud to take part in an era that changed history.  "I know they're trying to help people get jobs but it's too late," Turner said.  "For those who have already had an opportunity or should have had an opportunity to work at certain places."
Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford says he feels its never too late to do the right thing.  "Sometimes you do certain things because it's the right thing to do, and in this case it was the right thing to do," Langford said.  "The healing process doesn't start until we acknowledge a wrong done to someone else"

Bishop Calvin Woods, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference says the gesture is a day for the history books. "To god be the glory for all that he did for those who stood up both black and white, and to him be the glory for what has been here today"

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a pioneer during those days, was not there for the meeting, but his wife was there to say a simple thank you. "For having the insight and foresight and taking the time to right a wrong," Sephira Shuttlesworth said,  "It wasn't about a people who broke a people, it was about a law that existed with the intention of breaking a people"

Shuttlesworth was also placed into the Gallery of Distinguished Citizens at Birmingham City Hall.  It is a hall of fame for Birmingham residents, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.