Jacksonville native and Florida civil rights hall of famer Dr. Arnett Elysus Girardeau passed away on Wednesday after a long life of public service and distinction. A lifelong human rights advocate Dr. Girardueau received a B.S. (1952) and D.D.S. from the great Howard University. He also did graduate work at Wayne State and Fisk Universities. Girardueau is most known for his service in the Florida House of Representatives (1976 to 1983) and as State Senator (1982 – 1992). Late in his years as a senator, he served as Senate president pro tempore. He was the first African American to do so.
One will see the countless achievements and awards and would never know the horrors this man of class and character must have seen. When the 60s saw activists standing tall and facing racist violence, he participated in many of the Jacksonville sit-ins. He also was involved in the race riot called Ax Handle Saturday that took place in Jacksonville. The first black state senator elected to the Florida State House since Reconstruction, he became a founding member and Chairman of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators.
Not just another politician, this man got the big jobs done. For instance, Girardeau was instrumental in creating the congressional districts in Jacksonville and Miami. The first blacks from Florida became members of the U.S. Congress as a result. This action made it possible for there to be a Congresswoman Corrine Brown to fight for the issues of those who had been left out. This was done from Dr. Girardeau’s perch as the Chairman of the senate subcommittee on Redistricting.
As the young begin to research the greats who made Florida a better place for all people, Dr. Arnett Elysus Girardeau’s name must be mentioned. There is something to be said about the man in the arena who takes the blows and keep going. With too many affiliations to name and too many honors to list, may one of our most talented and thoughtful native sons rest in peace. We pray that his family accept the sincere thanks from all of us for sharing his life with the human family.
Dr. Girardueau’s Affiliations:
He was a member of the Florida Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association, Dental Society, Dental Laboratories Committee, Florida State Dental Association, Eartha M. White Nursing Home board of Directors, Florida Junior College Dental Assist’s Advisory Committee, NW Council Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors, Howard University Alumni President, Jacksonville Museum of Arts and Sciences Board of Trustees, Florida/Africa Trade Development Council, He was a Vice President of the NAACP, served on the board of directors Greater Jacksonville Economic Opportunities and many more…
Some of Dr. Girardueau’s Awards:
- Jackson Urban League Award
- Gallant Ladies of Pittsburgh Award for Work in Education Advancement
- Received the Jacksonville Relations Commission Award for Outstanding Service
- Phi Delta Kappa National Sorority Award for Dedicated Service in Civic Affairs
- Florida Human Relations Commission Legislative Achievement Award
- Florida Medical Dental and Pharmaceutical Award
- FJC Student Government Award
- State Action Council Award
- Jacksonville Area Sickle Cell Association Honors
- EWC Annual Founders’ Day and Alumni Award
- Duval Teachers United Certificate of Appreciation
- Florida Dental Association outstanding Contribution to the Legislature
- Sickle Cell Foundation Tampa Leadership in Community Involvement
- Florida Chiropractic Association Outstanding Contribution to Quality
- Howard University Alumni Achievement Award
- LINKS Outstanding Service Award
- Fourth Florida Caribbean AAF Certificate of Appreciation
- And many more honors