Lawson introduces legislation to honor Tallahassee activist Edwina Stephens

Edwina Stephens

Special to the Outlook

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson recently introduced a bill to designate the United States Post Office at 2800 South Adams Street as the “D. Edwina Stephens Post Office.”

Stephens, who passed away in 2011 at the age of 86, was a dedicated community activist, civil rights icon and registered nurse. She spent her life advocating for improvements in her community, especially in the historically neglected neighborhoods on Tallahassee’s Southside and in the Greater Bond community.

“Naming a post office in Tallahassee is a meaningful way to honor Edwina Stephens’ enduring legacy and her unyielding fight for justice,” Lawson said. “Warmly regarded as the ‘Mother of the Southside,’ Mrs. Stephens’ influence and kindred spirit will never go unnoticed. She was an inspiration to many and will be remembered as the heart of our community.”

As a nurse, Stephens pioneered great improvements in local health care at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and Florida A&M University’s Student Health Services. In May 2009, at the tender age of 84, she participated in a protest to bring attention to the rise of violent crime in her community. Not letting the 90-degree temperature deter her participation, she told a reporter, “The cause is greater than the sunshine and hot weather.”

This culmination of Stephens’ work led her to be awarded the Florida Finest Award by then-Governor Lawton Chiles.

She served numerous organizations including the Leon County Juvenile Justice Council, Keep Tallahassee/Leon County Beautiful, Habitat for Humanity, Community in Schools Task Force, and the Smith-Williams Foundation Board.

Lawson’s bill has the bipartisan support of all 25 Congressional House members from the Florida delegation. 

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