City’s Black history firsts honored at awards dinner

Former Tallahassee mayor Dorothy Inman-Johnson and her husband, Lee Johnson, have been putting on the recognition of the city’s first Blacks for three years now.
Photo from Facebook post by Bill Schack

By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

While Black History Month might serve as a time to prick the conscious about the contributions of African Americans, recognizing home-grown greatness is just as essential.

That’s something that Dorothy Inman-Johnson, Tallahassee’s first Black female mayor, acknowledges. She is so passionate about bringing awareness to the contribution of Blacks in the city that for three years now she and her husband, pastor Lee Johnson, have been honoring the firsts in local Black history.

“I just want these trailblazers to be recognized for the good work they are doing in this community,” Inman-Johnson said. “They may not have a national profile but we need to know who is making and building this community that we live in.”

This year’s event, which was held at the Civic Center last Friday night, also was a fund-raiser for Loved by Jesus Family Church, where Johnson is pastor. Some of the money raised will be used to fund the church’s youth program that the Johnson’s run at Orange Avenue Apartments.

The event recognized 30 individuals who were Tallahassee’s first in law and medicine. In part, the children that they are supporting were part of the impetus for the event.

“We felt we needed to introduce the children and their parents to real history makers who are still living,” Inman-Johnson said. “Real history makers right now; not always going back to the icons like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and Justice Thurgood Marshall as though we’ve stopped making history as a people.”

Barbara Hobbs, the first Black female circuit judge from Tallahassee, was one of the honorees. She recalled having to overcome growing up in Tallahassee in a household that didn’t have much to becoming a judge.

“I appreciate it a lot,” said Hobbs, who is a graduate of FSU law school who was elected to another term. “I’m excited that the community thought enough to elect me to that position.”

Hobbs credited her mentor Mildred Ravenell for influencing her decision to get into law. 

“It was very important for me to see a Black woman who is educated and had a family,” she said. “She did all types of things. I wanted to be that.”

Each of the honorees spoke briefly, using the occasion to express their appreciation for the recognition. Attorney John Due, a civil rights activist, used some of his time to reiterate the importance of the event.

“The struggle continues,” he said. “We are not finished. We’ve got work to do.”

Surgeon Charlie Richardson was among the ones recognized for their work in medicine. A licensed physician in Florida and Georgia, he was involved with the groundwork for creating Bond Community Health Center.

He said he was grateful for the honor because of what it means to him and other pioneers in the city.

“We have to keep our history alive and not just recognize it in February (Black History Month),” he said. “It’s just a matter of keeping those memories alive. These folks that are right here still were instrumental and a whole lot of people still don’t know about it.”

Adner Marcelin, president of the local chapter of the NAACP who was master of ceremonies, said he felt honored to be among the ones who were recognized.

“Normally when we have all of those individuals in the same room, they’re usually at a funeral,” Marcelin said. “To be honoring those who paved the way and made it possible for individuals like me to attend law school and come back to help our community to be advocates and leaders for justice is truly an honor for me.

“We are losing our ways and our traditions. We have to be the ones that preserve it. If we want to continue breaking ceiling and breaking barriers, events like this are very important.”

 

BLACK HISTORY FIRST HONOREES

Judge Augustus D. Aikens, First Black Male Leon County Judge

Attorney Remus Allen, First Black Assistant Public Defender

Dr. Russell L. Anderson, First Black Doctor Admitted to TMH

Dr. Wilmoth Baker, III, First Black Anesthesiologist

Attorney Martin Black, First Black Leon Public Defender to become a Judge

Dr. Alfreda Blackshear, First Black Female Pediatician

Dr. A. D. Brickler, First Black OB/GYN Physician Admitted to Practice at TMH

Dr. Earl Britt, First Black Cardiologist

Dr. Alpha O. Campbell, Founder of First Privately Owned Hospital

Dr. Joseph Camps, First Black Urologist

Judge Nikki Clark, First Black Appeals Court Judge/Circuit 2

Attorney John Due, First Black Attorney with Private Law Office

Attorney Ed Duffee, One of First Black Attorneys in Private Practice

Dr. LHB Foote, Founder of FAMU Hospital and Nursing Program

Dr. William H. Gunn, First Black Physician

Justice Joseph Hatchett, First Black Florida Supreme Court Justice

Judge Judith Hawkins, First Black Leon County Judge

Dr. Lionel Henry, First Black Pediatrician

Judge Barbara Hobbs, First Black Circuit Judge

Ms. Millicent Holifield, Founder of Leon County LPN Program

Judge Eleanor Hunter, First Black Administrative Law Judge

Attorney Cassandra Jackson, First Black Tallahassee City Attorney

Attorney Harold Knowles, Founding Partner of First Black Law Firm

Justice Peggy Quince, First Black Female Justice/Chief Justice/Florida Supreme Court

Attorney Roosevelt Randolph, First Black Assistant State Attorney

Dr. Ronald Ray, First Black Radiologist

Dr. Charlie Richardson, First Black TMH Surgeon

Dr. Howard Roberts, A Founder of the FAMU School of Pharmacy

Justice Leander Shaw, First Black Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court

Dr. Joseph Webster, First Black Gastroenterologist


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