EQFL NOTE: The fight for fairness and equality has been going on for a very long time here in Florida. When one of our civil rights leaders passes on, it's a reminder to look back and appreciate the trackrecord of success the civil right movement has had in our state. Seeing how far we've come gives us hope for where we're going and the faith that we will get there.
Civil rights leader Patricia Stephens Due dies at 72
February 07, 2012|By the CNN Wire Staff
Civil rights leader Dr. Patricia Stephens Due died Tuesday at age 72, nearly 52 years after she played a leading role in student sit-ins in Tallahassee, Florida, her family said.
Due's death followed "a determined and courageous fight against cancer," her family said.
In 1960, as a 20-year-old college student and founding member of the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, Due, her sister, Priscilla, and three other Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University students were arrested for sitting at a Woolworth lunch counter.
Their decision to spend 49 days in jail rather than pay fines marked one of the first "jail-ins" during the civil rights movement, according to Johnita Due, one of the civil rights leader's three daughters and a lawyer for CNN.
During her time in jail, Due received a telegram of encouragement from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. "Going to jail for a righteous cause is a badge of honor and a symbol of dignity," it said. " I assure you that your valiant witness is one of the glowing epics of our time and you are bringing all of America (to) the threshold of the world's bright tomorrows."
Jackie Robinson, who broke major league baseball's racial barrier, sent Due a diary so that she could record her experiences while in jail, the family said.
Due's involvement with civil rights, which included leading rallies and marches throughout Tallahassee and elsewhere, came with a price, her family said. She was arrested for protesting in Florida and New York and the FBI had built up a 400-page file on her because of her activities, according to the family.