Tallahassee, FL - Jessie Marshall owes his freedom to thousands of civil rights activists. He spent what would have been Martin Luther King‘s 82nd birthday remembering their sacrifices.
“Not only did Martin Luther King sacrifice, but a lot of more people did the same efforts,” said Marshall.
King is known worldwide, but brave Floridians who risked it all for equality are often forgotten. People like CK Steele who led the Tallahassee Bus Boycott.
In 1964, Barbara James was beaten while trying to integrate a St. Augustine Beach.
“I knew what I was doing, I knew what I was fighting for. I won’t give up for my kids and my grandkids,” said James.
Black Archives Museum Curator Doris Jacob Smith was almost hit by a semi.
“My dad told us, he said, I know you all are taking part in the demonstrations and all he said but you all better not get arrested because I might not be able to get either one of ya out of jail,” said Smith.
For decades these deeds were mostly overlooked by the state while legislation was passed honoring athletes, artists, educators and women with hall of fame displays.
Now, 56 years after the Civil Rights Act was signed, Florida will honor freedom fighters with a Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
“Later is better than never,” said Smith.
And plans for more accolades are in the works. A building on Monroe St in Tallahassee is believed to be one of the last standing sights were sit-ins were held in Florida. There are plans to turn it into a black history museum, but the funding isn’t there.
Memory of the protests live on as the state searches for funds. The hall of fame will be located on the first floor of the capitol. The first three inductees will be chosen by Governor Rick Scott later this year.