Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, state and local government officials, along with community leaders came together today, to honor the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, at a special commemorative ceremony at the Orange County Regional History Center.
Before a gathering of some 200 persons, State Representative Geraldine Thompson (District 12), during her invocation, paid tribute to the many who had fought to end racial segregation and for the right to vote. In particular, she recalled the sacrifices of Rosa Parks, whom the U.S. Congress named ‘the first lady of civil rights;’ Dr. William M. Wells, one of Orlando’s first black doctors, who built the Wells’ Built Hotel now the Wells’ Built Museum; Harriette and Harry Moore who founded the NAACP Chapter in Brevard County and were killed by the KKK when their home was fire bombed on Christmas night in 1951 and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.
Jacobs, in her remarks, like Thompson, saluted the heroes of the civil rights era and recalled the pain, the suffering and the tragedies of the past.
“We all remember for too long this nation lived with the evil of racism, of bigotry and violence,” she said. “From Alabama to Mississippi to Florida, prejudice and hatred haunted the very soul of our nation.”
She also referenced the Summer of Freedom, when according to her, the final fight for one person, one vote was fought and won.
“When we engage in voter registration, when we engage in meaningful political discourse, and with every single vote we cast, we honor the memory and the sacrifice of the 11 legendary civil rights leaders,” she said.
Acknowledging that work remains to be done, Jacobs urged that, “each of us must be vigilant in standing up and speaking out against injustice.”
A Proclamation commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was read by Jacobs. She also informed that, an 11-member Orange County Civil Rights Committee on which Eatonville Mayor Bruce Mount and Chief Judge Belvin Perry serve, has been established to keep the ‘Summer of Freedom’ alive and on whom she could call from time to time to strengthen and unite the county, when issues arise.
Curtis Dean, highlighted the work of his godmother, Rosa Parks during the era of segregation and Jim Crow and the many awards she had been bestowed, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal in 1996 and 1999, respectively. Parks was the first woman and the second black person to ever have the honor of lying in state in the U.S. capitol.
During the commemoration event, Dean presented a portrait of Rosa Parks to Mayor Jacobs. Also, a 3-panel mural featuring Martin Luther King, Jr, and Eatonville’s Zora Neale Hurston, created by Full Sail students, was unveiled.
A musical rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” was offered by summer camp students of the Orange County Regional History Center. Monica May of Star 94.5 emceed the commemorative event, attended by several Orange County Commissioners including, Tiffany Moore Russell, Scott Boyd and Pete Clarke and city of Orlando Commissioner Sam Ings.