Integration Mattered! Build its Monument at UF NOW!!

82 Signatures Goal: 500

Since 2013, Students at the University of Florida have requested a Monument honoring the 1958 court-ordered admission of African-American students to UF. After almost a decade of Florida’s refusal to comply with U.S. Supreme Court orders, UF ended its segregation policy only after Virgil Hawkins, the plaintiff in the NAACP lawsuit, agreed to withdraw his application for admission in return for an order admitting “qualified negro applicants”. The UF desegregation monument is intended to publicly recognize the struggle and initial trailblazers who transformed Florida's publicly-funded flagship university into a college that admitted the children of all Florida taxpayers regardless of race. The admission of African-American students to the University of Florida in 1958, occurred without violence or Federal Troops. For Virgil Darnell Hawkins, who fought for this right from 1949 - 1958, UF’s non-violent integration came at great personal cost. For almost a decade, UF, the Florida Supreme Court and the Governors and Legislatures of Florida defied the lawful orders of the U.S. Supreme Court that required his admission. Finally in 1958, after 4 orders from the U.S. Supreme Court and 5 illegal decisions of the Florida Supreme Court refusing to comply with the highest court in our nation, Mr. Hawkins, a poor powerless Florida citizen who risked his life during his decade-long fight, gave up his right to become the first "Negro" (as he was referred to during his court fight) to attend UF. As a result of his decision, the Federal Judge who delayed his retirement to insure that UF would remain segregated, signed the court order that required UF to admit Black Floridians to its graduate programs. The decision destroyed Mr. Hawkins life and his dream from age six, to defend members of his race as a Florida attorney, during the productive years of his life. Having acquired the right to claim a victory over the man Ebony magazine referred to in 1958 as "The South's Most Patient Man", UF complied with the order to admit negro graduate students. Without further court orders it then extended these admissions to its undergraduate programs and Florida’s other public universities also desegregated without the need for additional court orders. The lack of violence produced few news photos or television moments, so this history is not part of America's memory of civil rights history. The struggle of Mr. Hawkins and the UF's first black students, however, required many early students to bear the costs associated with being "the first", including incidents in the 1970's when the majority of black students were arrested and expelled by UF President Stephen O'Connell, who had been one of the Florida Supreme Court Justices joining in the court's ruling to deny Hawkins admission to UF despite direct Orders from the U.S. Supreme Court. This history remains bittersweet, but its non-violent legacy allowed Florida to avoid the scenes of Oxford, Mississippi, or of a Florida Governor acting like Alabama's Governor Wallace. The monument will recognize and honor this history. It is time for UF’s President and officials to agree to the reasonable pleas of its students. It’s time for UF to join Florida State University and the University of Mississippi's decisions to erect monuments to honor their historic milestones in America's quest for equal access to educational opportunities.

1

Highlight

January 22
We are now live!
  • Zebbie Connelly
    Zebbie Connelly United States, Leesburg
    May 04, 2016
    May 04, 2016
    My Awesome Uncle Virgil D Hawkins deserved better from the state of Florida.
  • Dawn M Gardner MS
    Dawn M Gardner MS United States, Atlanta
    May 04, 2016
    May 04, 2016
    It is a worthy effort and long overdue to recognize exemplary efforts made to allow what is right – accessing education in the USA, a USA Citizen’s Right. I fully support this petition!
  • William Nealous
    William Nealous United States, Atlanta
    May 04, 2016
    May 04, 2016
    Don't let history be forgotten.
  • Mia Trumbo
    Mia Trumbo United States
    May 04, 2016
    May 04, 2016
    This is for you Uncle Virgil
See More
82

Signatures

  • 8 months ago
    Josh Holtzman United States
    8 months ago
  • 12 months ago
    Marna Weston United States
    12 months ago
  • 1 year ago
    Renita Ware United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Mark Smith United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Kimeko Parson United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Charnette P Brown United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Phyllis United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Djuana Johnson United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Stephanie Hawkins-Steward United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Zuri Connelly United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Kimberly S Trumbo United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Zebbie Connelly United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Katura Greene United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Gregory Pittman United States
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Dawn M Gardner MS United States
    1 year ago
See More