Three Civil Rights Heroes Selected For Florida Civil Rights Hall Of Fame

By: Florida Commission on Human Relations Email
By: Florida Commission on Human Relations Email

News Release: Florida Commission on Human Relations

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera officially inducted Robert B. Hayling, James Weldon Johnson and Asa Philip Randolph into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame for 2014.

“Many individuals have made a positive impact on the civil rights movement in Florida, and it brings me great pride to once again recognize them by the induction to 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 Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera in recognizing their contributions that improved our state and country for the better,” concluded Wilson.

Robert B. Hayling (1929- ), Dr. Robert B. Hayling is a native of Tallahassee, born on November 20, 1929. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1960 from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry and soon began his practice in St Augustine — becoming the first African-American dentist in Florida to be elected to the local, regional, state and national components of the American Dental Association. Dr. Hayling actively embraced the growing cause of civil rights, serving for nearly a year as the head of the St Augustine Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and as an adult advisor to the Youth Council of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Hayling’s early and steadfast leadership in the cause of civil rights in St Augustine has been recognized in many ways, including the renaming of the street where he once lived to Dr. Robert B. Hayling Place; the 2012 Recipient of the Florida A & M University Distinguished Alumni Award; the Florida Memorial University’s Nathan W. Collier Meritorious Service Award recognizing his “courage, vision, fortitude and service on behalf of mankind;” and the namesake of the Dr. Robert B. Hayling Award of Valor, created by then Florida Senator Tony Hill in Hayling’s honor.

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), James Weldon Johnson was an influential and notable novelist, poet, songwriter, lawyer and a United States consul in a foreign nation. He served an important role in combating racism through his position in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Born in Jacksonville, Florida on June 17, 1871, Johnson grew up in a middle-class home, where his mother encouraged him to pursue an interest in reading and music. After college, Johnson became the principal of Stanton School and expanded the school to include a high school. In 1898, he was admitted to the Florida Bar. While balancing his dual career as principal and lawyer, Johnson found time to write poetry and songs, achieving success with the composition of around 200 songs for Broadway. Johnson also became involved in politics and was appointed by the Roosevelt Administration as the United States consul in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela and Corinto, Nicaragua. Johnson held several positions in the NAACP, where he was able to bring attention to racism, lynching and segregation. Johnson believed that it was important for blacks to produce great literature and art to demonstrate their intellectual equality and advance their placement in America.

Asa Philip Randolph (1889-1979), Labor leader and social activist A. Philip Randolph was born April 15, 1889, in Crescent City, Florida. During World War I, Randolph tried to unionize African-American shipyard workers in Virginia and elevator operators in New York City, and founded a magazine designed to encourage African-American laborers to demand higher wages. After graduating from Cookman, one of the first institutions of higher education for blacks in the country, Randolph moved to the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, where he studied English literature and sociology at City College. In 1912, Randolph founded an employment agency called the Brotherhood of Labor with Chandler Owen as a means of organizing African-American workers. In 1917, Randolph and his wife founded a political magazine, The Messenger, and began publishing articles calling for the inclusion of more blacks in the armed forces and war industry and demanding higher wages. In 1925, Randolph founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, seeking to gain the union's official inclusion in the American Federation of Labor. After World War II, Randolph organized the League for Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation. In 1963, Randolph was a principal organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, sharing the podium with Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Randolph was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Soon after, he founded the A. Philip Randolph Institute, an organization aimed at studying the causes of poverty.

In 2010, The Florida Legislature established the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame to recognize and honor individuals who have made significant contributions as leaders for equality and justice for all persons. Under the law, the Florida Commission on Human Relations recommends 10 persons to the Governor, who selects up to three inductees. To be considered, nominees must have been born in Florida or have adopted Florida as their home state or base of operation. The names of inductees will be permanently displayed in the First Floor Rotunda of the Florida State Capitol Building.

For more information on the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame, please visit http://fchr.state.fl.us or on Facebook.


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