Lawmakers to Inaugurate ‘Civil Rights Hall of Fame’

Lawmakers will unveil Florida’s Civil Rights Hall of Fame with an inaugural ceremony on Feb. 29 at the Capitol rotunda.

Out of 10 finalists, Gov. Rick Scott narrowed it down to three inductees: Mary McLeod Bethune, a civil rights and education activist, Rev. C.K. Steele, a civil rights leader, and Sen. Claude Pepper, a celebrated former Florida representative.

The three will be memorialized on plaques displayed on a wall of honor in the Capitol building rotunda.

“They serve as shining examples in our time as we strive to give everyone a fair chance for economic and educational development that will strengthen our state and nation,” said Scott.

Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, and Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, are the creators and sponsors of HB 523, a bill that provides for selection of the hall-of-fame members by the governor upon recommendations made to the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

FCHR provides criteria for nominations and authorizes set time periods for nominations.

“I initially sponsored this bill because I think it is important to educate visitors in the capitol about the role Florida played in the Civil Rights struggle,” said Williams.

Williams continued, “The Civil Rights Hall of Fame will serve as a living monument for those people who played significant roles in civil rights and those who are still fighting for rights in no particular area. Their contributions will educate locals and those who visit the capitol.”

Under the law establishing the Civil Rights Hall of Fame, persons who are no longer living, who were born in Florida or adopted Florida as their home state and base of operation are eligible for nomination.

Michelle Wilson of the FCHR said the legacies of these trailblazers are all around us and that Floridians have been enriched by their contributions.

Ramon Davis, a 19-year-old sophomore engineering student from Glen Ridge, Fla., said, “I admire this hall of fame as being one of the beginning efforts of lawmakers who wish to keep Florida’s history enriched in locals, as well as visitors.

You hear about these civil rights activists in history classes, but it’s exciting to know that they are being recognized on a state level by the governor and other legislators.”