Florida’s Civil Rights Hall of Fame has three new inductees. The activists were recognized Wednesday.
In 1978, Jesse McCrary Jr. became Florida’s first black Secretary of State since Reconstruction. He also led sit-ins in Tallahassee and represented Southern states before the US Supreme Court. Margaret McCrary says her husband resisted inequality from a young age.
“The son of a Baptist preacher during the era of Jim Crow laws, Jesse was raised to believe that he could and was required to rise above the limitations of racial segregation and injustice,” she said.
Earl Johnson, a civil rights lawyer who represented Dr. Martin Luther King and civics teacher and community organizer Rutledge Henry Pearson, were also inducted Wednesday. Earl Johnson Jr. says, even as his father worked with civil rights giants, he never expected recognition.
“Dad began that journey in West Virginia when he found himself at the law school at Howard University, being tutored by Thurgood Marshall on how to litigate Brown vs. Board of Education. I think it was at that moment that he realized he could really make a difference. So when he came to Jacksonville he found a town deeply segregated by race,” he said.
Former Florida Democratic Senator Tony Hill says these activists and others paved the way for generations of black lawmakers. Their names and stories will be displayed in the halls of the state capitol.