Leaders inducted into Civil Rights Hall of Fame

THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Two civil rights leaders and Florida’s first Black Cabinet member since Reconstruction were inducted Wednesday into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

160513_front02The late civil rights leaders Earl Johnson, Rutledge Pearson and Jesse McCrary, an attorney who was appointed secretary of state in 1978 by then-Gov. Reubin Askew, were honored during a ceremony at the Capitol.

As a student at Florida A&M University, McCrary organized sit-ins against racial discrimination in Tallahassee.

Johnson, an attorney, was the first African-American member of the Jacksonville Bar Association and represented many civil rights activists, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Pearson, a teacher, was the former president of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. His son, Rutledge Pearson Jr. accepted the award for his father and said everyone has a role in continuing the progress of ensuring civil rights.

“People are just people,” he said. “Ignorance has no color, and we all need to believe that if we all work together regardless of race, regardless of political affiliation, this world would be a better place.”

The Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame was created in 2010 and now includes 15 members.

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