Governor Rick Scott Selects Three Inductees for Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the selection of Jesse McCrary, Jr., Earl Johnson, and Rutledge Henry Pearson to the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Governor Scott chose these three from a list of 10 distinguished nominees selected by the Florida Commission on Human Relations for making significant contributions to the improvement of life for minorities and all citizens of the great State of Florida.

Jesse McCrary, Jr. (1937-2007), formerly of Miami, was the first African American to serve as Secretary of State in the Florida Cabinet since Reconstruction as well as the first African American assistant attorney general. As a student at Florida A & M University, McCrary helped organize sit-ins in Tallahassee against racial discrimination. After graduation, he served in the United States Army and received an honorable discharge as a First Lieutenant. McCrary went on to become the first African American lawyer to argue before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of a southern state. He later became the first African American in the south to be appointed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. During his life, McCrary argued many landmark state and federal cases including Neil v. State, which prohibited the dismissal of jurors solely on the basis of race. In 2002, the Florida A & M College of Law founded the Jesse McCrary, Jr. Chapter of National Black Law Students Association and in 2013, the Little River Post Office in Miami was dedicated and renamed in recognition for his work as a civil rights pioneer.

Earl M. Johnson (1928-1988), formerly of Jacksonville, was the first African American to become a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association. Johnson also served as chair of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and was instrumental during the Consolidation of Jacksonville through his service on the Local Government Study Commission as Secretary. Johnson was committed to fighting inequality and segregation throughout his life and distinguished himself by representing many civil rights activists including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ambassador Young. His cases helped to desegregate many public places in Florida including schools, parks, water fountains, and hospitals. The Earl M. Johnson Memorial Park in Jacksonville was created and named in honor of his work for the civil rights movement.

Rutledge Henry Pearson (1929-1967), formerly of Jacksonville, was an American history teacher, civil rights leader, and human rights activist who focused on empowering his students to become involved in the civil rights movement and promote nonviolence. Pearson first became involved in the civil rights movement as a baseball player when Jacksonville park officials chose to close the park rather than allow organized baseball to become integrated. In 1961, he was elected President of the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP and later elected President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. Under his leadership, peaceful demonstrations against segregated hotels and restaurants were held and membership grew. Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School in Jacksonville is named in his honor.

ARTHUR DILLARD is Governor Rick Scott featured artist for Black History Month:

Arthur Dillard is a nationally renowned and accomplished artist whose work has been exhibited throughout the United States in galleries and museums in Florida, Georgia, Virginia and Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas, North Carolina and New York as well as the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. His work was viewed with appreciation at a National gala commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs Board of Education Decision in Washington, D.C. Mr. Dillard's work in in various private collections and museums, including the Art Museum of the Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach. Mr. Dillard holds a B.S. Degree from Florida A&M University. His studio is located in Bradenton, Florida.

Little Known Black History Facts

Ruth Ella Moore received a Ph.D. in Bacteriology from Ohio State University in 1933 becoming the first black female to do so. Dr. Moore served as the Head of the Department of Bacteriology at Howard University Medical College from 1947 to 1958.

LEAD LETTER: Celebrating black female leaders who benefited from Voting Rights Act

Welcome to the Commissioner of Education's African American History Task Force

The Commissioner of Education's African American History Task Force is an advocate for Florida’s school districts, teacher education training centers, and the community at large, in implementing the teaching of the history of African peoples and the contributions of African Americans to society. The Task Force works to ensure awareness of the requirements, identify and recommend needed state education leadership action, assist in adoption of instructional materials by the state, and build supporting partnerships.

"We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends."

-Mary McLeod Bethune

Mission and Goals

The State of Florida’s African American History Task Force works to ensure awareness of the requirements, identify and recommend needed state education leadership action, assist in adoption of instructional materials by the state, and build supporting partnerships.

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Task Force Members

Current membership on the The State of Florida's Task Force on African American History.

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Professional Development

Our online learning platform will be rooted in the teachings of rich African History traditions and will be held up to the same standards of excellence, accreditation and sustainability that Florida school districts have come to expect. The Commissioner of Education's African American History Task Force would like to welcome our new partnership with EverFi. EverFi is an education technology innovator that empowers learners. EverFi provides an immersive learning environment that brings the real world into the classroom. EverFi introduces 306: American-American History . The mission of 306: African-American History is to inform and inspire today’s students through the stories and themes of African-American women and men who overcame obstacles through grit, strength, creativity and intellect. To access the EverFi learning platform, please visit http://306.everfi.com

Florida Instructional Standards

These curricula outlines are intended to provide teachers with information to begin the development of their lesson plans in teaching African and African American HIstory.

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A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people. - Frederick Douglass

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Address and Facebook

Commissioner of Education’s African American History Task Force
501 Orr Drive
GEC-C 316
Tallahassee, FL 32307

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