Tears, laughter and music filled Lee Hall auditorium Sunday as all who were inspired by Patricia Stephens Due reminisced about and celebrated the permanent mark she left on African-American history.
Due led what would become the nation’s first “jail-in” and started a movement that would provoke others to do the same. Even after tear gas left her temporarily blind and caused her to wear a pair of dark sunglasses for the rest of her life, she persevered.
She participated in sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Tallahassee and spent 49 days in jail because she refused to give in to Jim Crow and segregation. President James H. Ammons spoke about Due’s contributions to history and her devotion to ensuring that everyone received basic human rights.
“Due was an advocate for justice for all. I am personally grateful to her for her role in making the opportunities that I have experienced in my life possible,” said Ammons.
Many described her as a strong, courageous woman, who in the face of adversity, continued to fight for what she believed in– human dignity–.
“Her true legacy is the impact she had on the legacy of others and I stand here as a part of her legacy,” said John R. Marks III, the mayor of Tallahassee. Marks said he wouldn’t be where he is if it were not for Due and her works.
She is remembered as a brave and tenacious woman who always put her family first. She had a desire to educate others about the struggles endured by trailblazers such as herself. Although her life has ended, her family and close friends remain confident that her legacy will continue to live because “the struggle continues.”
Due’s burial was held at St. Hebron AME Church, in Quincy, Fla., following the memorial.