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Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame has first inductees

Sascha Cordner
Those who accepted the award on behalf of the first inductees of the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame (from left to right) Reverend Dr. Henry Marion Steele, Tina Pepper, and Dr. Evelyn Bethune

Governor Rick Scott joined other officials at the Capitol Wednesday in the induction of the first members into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Sascha Cordner has more.

The Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame sprang out of a 2010 bill, co-authored by the now Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, Democratic Representative Alan Williams, and former Senator Tony Hill.

In commemorating the last day of Black History Month, they joined other community leaders as well as Governor Rick Scott in the induction of the hall of fame’s first members:

“This Hall of Fame and the people it will honor remind of us of our responsibility to stand up to injustice as well as all of the people who will be inducted in this hall of fame will be tremendous role models for us.”

Mary McLeod Bethune, who’s known for dedicating her life as an advocate for African Americans and has a school already named after her, is one of the first recipients. Her grandchild, Dr. Evelyn Bethune accepted the award on her behalf:

“I would be very remiss if I did not acknowledge all our family who have flown many distances to be here. It is a great pleasure and a great honor for my grandmother to receive this honor and we thank you very much for making this so.”

A former U-S and state lawmaker Claude Denson Pepper, who people called a tireless advocate for the elderly, also was inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. His sister-in-law Tina Pepper accepted the award:

“If Claude were here, he would applaud the huge strides in civil rights that he and many others helped to bring about. He would also be the first to say keep going, there’s more to do. On behalf of Claude and the Pepper family, we thank you.”

The last awardee was Charles Kenzie Steele, better known as C-K Steele, a civil rights activist and preacher in Tallahassee.