Scott names three to Civil Rights Hall of Fame

FROM WIRE REPORTS

TALLAHASSEE – The first Black Cabinet member since Reconstruction, a lawyer who fought segregation, and a state leader of the NAACP have been named by Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

160205_front03Scott’s office announced Monday that the selections include the late Jesse McCrary, a native of the Ocala area. McCrary was an attorney who was appointed in 1978 by then-Gov. Reubin Askew to serve as secretary of state, and became the first Black state Cabinet member since Reconstruction.

Also named were the late attorney Earl M. Johnson of Jacksonville, who battled segregation and represented civil rights activists in Florida courts, including the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Johnson was also a law partner of the late Leander Shaw, the Florida Supreme Court’s second Black justice.

The third selection was the late Rutledge Pearson, also a Jacksonville-based civil rights activist who served as president of the Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches. He participated in desegregation activities in Jacksonville as the NAACP branch president there. Ironically, Pearson became the first African-American to be buried in the city’s racially segregated Evergreen Cemetery after he was killed in a car crash at age 37 in 1967.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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