The first three inductees into Florida’s Civil Rights Hall of Fame were named on February 29, 2012
Former Florida Senator Claude Denson Pepper (1900-1989), Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), and Charles Kenzie Steele (1914-1980 were all inducted postmortem. Pepper sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment. Bethune created a school for black girls that later became Bethune-Cookman University. Steele protested segregation and helped organize the Tallahassee Bus Boycott.
Florida Representative Alan Williams sponsored the bill that created the state Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Florida is America’s first.
“The legacy built by these inductees is one we must carry today. We carry it now in our state’s history. We must carry it with everything that we do,” said Williams.
The text of the bill
Provides for establishment & location of Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame; provides for selection of hall-of-fame members by Governor upon recommendations by Florida Commission on Human Relations; provides criteria for such recommendations; authorizes commission to set time periods for nomination & selection of hall-of-fame members; assigns responsibility for certain hall-of-fame costs.