Three Civil Rights Heroes Inducted into Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Dr. Marvin Davies, John Dorsey Due and Dr. Rev. Willie Oliver Wells were officially inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame for 2018.

“These three individuals have made a great impact on the civil rights movement in the Sunshine State, and I am excited to distinguish them by inducting them into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame,” said Florida Commission on Human Relations Executive Director Michelle Wilson. “As someone who has personally and professionally benefited from the works of these pioneers, I join all Floridians in recognizing their contributions that have improved our state and country for the better,” concluded Wilson.

DR. MARVIN DAVIES (1934-2003)

Dr. Marvin Davies

Born in 1934 in Bradford County, Florida, Dr. Marvin Davis earned his degree in 1959 from Florida A&M University, ranking second in his class of 341 and selected as student of the year.  During his time at Florida A&M, Dr. Davis joined Dr. King to participate in protests in Tallahassee, St. Augustine and Montgomery, Alabama.  Named field secretary and eventually Executive Director of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, he served as spokesman for Florida's 138 NAACP branches.  In this role, he was a passionate and committed spokesman for civil rights, stating that his job was "to assist the branches in focusing toward the implementation of the total 1964 Civil Rights Act." Dr. Davis served as a state coordinator of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation and was appointed a special assistant to Governor Bob Graham, where he also served on Bob Graham's Senate staff.  A section of the Florida Statutes (s. 760.121, F.S.), passed in 2003 by the Florida Legislature was named the “Dr. Marvin Davies Florida Civil Rights Act” and authorizes the Attorney General to commence a civil action for damages, relief and penalties for repeated discriminatory practices.

JOHN DORSEY DUE (1934-present)

JOHN DORSEY DUE

John Dorsey Due, Jr., was born in Indiana, but adopted Florida as his home state in 1960, when he enrolled in Florida A&M Law School. He graduated in 1963, the same year he married jail-in leader Patricia Stephens. A self-proclaimed “freedom lawyer” and longtime community activist, Mr. Due worked as an attorney in Mississippi during Freedom Summer on behalf of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to monitor violence against civil rights workers.  As an attorney for the Congress of Racial Equality, he helped pioneer the tactic of moving civil rights cases to federal court to avoid biased southern state courts. He also organized sanitation workers and other unions to fight poverty.  In Miami, as a member of the Dade County Community Relations Board and the Community Action Agency and as director of the Office of Black Affairs, Mr. Due's work focused on welfare rights, quality education, immigration and community policing.  He helped establish a national model for community policing in West Perrine with the NAACP and then state attorney Janet Reno. Mr. Due served as lead attorney in the long-running desegregation case against Dade County Public Schools. He also helped secure the release of 500 Haitian refugee children. Mr. Due has continued his community activism in Quincy and Tallahassee, Florida, with a focus on restorative justice and the elimination of mass prison incarceration.

DR. REV. WILLIE OLIVER WELLS (1931-2015)

DR. REV. WILLIE OLIVER WELLS

Dr. Rev. Willie Oliver Wells, throughout his lifetime, spearheaded numerous sit-ins, stand-ins, freedom rides and other anti-segregation and equal rights demonstrations in Brevard County, Florida.  He was instrumental in helping to desegregate local establishments, such as public schools, drug stores, lunch counters, hotels, movie theaters, public beaches, restaurants and places of employment.  While serving as the President of the Brevard County NAACP, he advocated for the rights of the local African-American community to the Cocoa City Council.  Dr. Wells organized an NAACP Youth Group to conduct sit-ins at the Woolworth lunch counter and Campbell’s Drugstore in Cocoa, and picketed and shut down a Georgia store after the store owner slapped and falsely accused a black woman of stealing a piece of meat. Appointed and served as a Commissioner by Governor Reuben Askew to the Florida Commission on Human Relations; served several terms.

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Gov. Scott Selects Three Inductees for Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the selection Marvin Davies, Dr. Reverend Willie Oliver Wells Sr., and John Dorsey Due Jr., 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.

Marvin Davies was born in Bradford County in 1934 and died on April 25, 2003. After serving in the United States Army, Davies attended Florida A&M University where he received his degree ranking second in his class. During his time at Florida A&M, he joined civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and participated in protests in Tallahassee, St. Augustine, and Montgomery, Alabama. Davies also worked as a coordinator of vocational counseling and job development and placement in a training program sponsored by the United States Department of Labor. In 1966, Davis was named field secretary and then executive director of the Florida State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also served as a special assistant to Governor Bob Graham and was state coordinator of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation.

Dr. Reverend Willie Oliver Wells Sr., was born in Miami in 1931 and died on November 4, 2015. After serving the United States Army, Wells received his bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a Bachelor of Theology degree from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in 1955. In 1959 Wells was selected to be a pastor at Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Cocoa. He also served as president of NAACP Brevard County chapter spearheading the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement in Brevard County. Wells also served as chairman of the Redevelopment Commission of the City of Cocoa. Among his many accomplishments, Wells established the Community Action Agency of Brevard, providing low-income day care centers, and constructed low-rent apartment complexes in Merritt Island and Melbourne. He also led the St. Paul Baptist Church in building a new $1.2 million church complex. Wells was also a Freedom Rider who led non-violent civil protests and an original member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

John Dorsey Due Jr., was born in Indiana in 1934 and moved to Florida to attend Florida A&M University Law School in 1960. Upon graduation, Due worked as an attorney in Mississippi on behalf of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, monitoring civil rights activities and violence against civil rights activists to report to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Due worked as an attorney for the Congress of Racial Equality in partnership with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and helped to pioneer the tactic of moving civil rights cases to federal court so that clients would not be subject to Southern state courts. Due later moved to Miami and worked with Legal Services, the Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board and Community Action Agency. He was also the head of the county’s Office of Black Affairs. Due received the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and Dade County Bar Pro Bono Award, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, “Distinguished Barrister Award” from the Annual Convention of Southern Leadership Conference, and the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP Adams-Powell Civil Rights Award for outstanding community involvement.

 

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U.S. Fair Housing Act Turns 50 Years Old in April 2018

U.S. Fair Housing Act 50th Anniversary

Tallahassee–As the nation celebrates National Fair Housing Month this April, the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) will be holding events across Florida commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the U.S. Fair Housing Act. This year, the Fair Housing Month theme is “Fair Housing Equals Opportunity,” emphasizing the fact that equality in housing provides the foundation upon which aspirations can be achieved and productive lives can be built while reflecting on the continued relevance of the Fair Housing Act. 

The landmark legislation, which was signed into law on April 11, 1968, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, sex, (and as amended) disability or family status. Every April, people across the country are encouraged to learn more about their rights and responsibilities under the Act as a part of the National Fair Housing Month.

More than 8,000 people filed housing discrimination complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last year, most from persons with disabilities, according to an annual report released this month by HUD.  Race-based housing discrimination was the second most frequent reason individuals filed complaints.

The FCHR Housing Unit has many activities planned to celebrate Fair Housing Month in April 2018. Here are a few of the events at which the FCHR will be participating:

  • April 9-11: 2018 Palm Beach County Fair Housing Summit (West Palm Beach)
  • April 12-13: 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Passage of the Fair Housing Act Fair Housing Workshops (Orlando)
  • April 13: 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Passage of the Fair Housing Act Fair (West Palm Beach)
  • April 14: 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Passage of the Fair Housing Act Fair (Jacksonville)
  • April 20: 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Passage of the Fair Housing Act Fair (Tampa)
  • April 27: 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Passage of the Fair Housing Act Fair (Miami)

The Florida Commission on Human Relations, established in 1969 by the Florida Legislature, is the state agency charged with administering the Florida Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act. Fair treatment, equal access and mutual respect are the benchmarks of the Commission’s commitment. Through education and partnerships, the Commission works to prevent discrimination and costly litigation through teaching best business practices and fostering understanding amongst Floridians.

For more information, visit http://fchr.myflorida.com, or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Jenkins and Peterson Selected to Chair and Vice Chair of Florida Commission on Human Relations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 30, 2018

 

CONTACTS:

Frank Penela
(850) 907-6787

TALLAHASSEE – Recently, members of the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) unanimously selected Tony Jenkins of Lake Mary to serve as the Chair of the FCHR and Latanya Peterson of Fleming Island to serve as Vice Chair.

Chair Jenkins is Florida Blue Market President for the Central Florida region, developing business plans to increase and retain membership, enhance brand visibility and coordinate employee engagement. Prior to joining Florida Blue, Jenkins served as Director of Diversity for CSX Corporation and spent 20 years with the Walt Disney World Company in various management roles. 

He is the past Chair for both United Arts of Central Florida and Leadership Orlando Class 89.  He also serves on the Orlando Economic Partnership and the Central Florida Foundation, as well as a Board Trustee at Stetson University. Jenkins was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve on the FCHR in 2014.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management from Morris Brown College in Atlanta, GA.

Vice Chair Peterson is an education professional and community advocate living in Fleming Island, Florida. An educator for more than 12 years, Peterson recently joined the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, where she assists Sheriff Darryl Daniels as the “Planning and Research Specialist.” Previously she served as Florida’s State Director for Engagement with the Republican National Committee, a high school English teacher and an education consultant for Steele Communications.

In addition to her professional work, Peterson is a passionate advocate for Clay County and Northeast Florida. She is a member of the Rotarian E-Club District 6970, on the Board for AMIKids Clay County and a Precinct Committeewoman for the Clay County Republican Party.

Peterson was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve on the FCHR in 2017.
FCHR works to prevent unlawful discrimination by investigating and resolving complaints of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations, as well as state employee whistle-blower retaliation against state agencies and state contractors. Since its creation in 1969, the Commission has investigated and closed more than 74,000 cases while enforcing the Florida Civil Rights Act, the Florida Fair Housing Act and the Florida Whistle-blower’s Act. Since 2006, Florida stakeholders have avoided at least $12 million per year by successfully participating in FCHR’s mediation services, thus preventing potentially costly lawsuits.

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