February 29, 2024

List of the 200 Most Influential African-American Leon Countians of the Last Two Centuries

by | List

The following information was compiled by the Florida Civil Rights Museum, Inc.℠ in partnership with Leon County Government. While we realize that there are many more individuals deserving of recognition who are not included on this initial list, we will periodically add names to this roster. We welcome the input of those who would like to improve upon what has been presented and encourage other individuals or organizations to prepare lists of notable individuals in recognition of Leon County’s bicentennial celebration.

The Florida Civil Rights Museum, Inc.℠ will provide a $250 cash prize to the first person who researches and provides further biographical information on 50 of the 200 individuals named on the list — with the caveat being that the 50 people you provide do not include any individual already profiled on the museum’s website at floridacivilrightsmuseum.org.

The contest will begin on February 29, 2024, and conclude on April 4, 2024.

* DENOTES that pioneer has already been featured in museum’s online exhibit.

  • Rev. R.N. Gooden* — noted pastor of St. Mary Primitive Baptist Church on West Call Street; civil rights leader; president of the state and local chapters of the SCLC.
  • Rev. C.K. Steele* — leader of Tallahassee Bus Boycott, student sit-ins, school desegregation and protests to integrate Tallahassee’s airport, hotels and theatres.
  • Christene Ford Knowles — former original Lincoln High School teacher; noted civil rights activist who sued Leon County School Board in federal court for school faculty integration; former school board candidate, who became the first black to run for a countywide office in Leon County.
  • Dr. Russell Lloyd Anderson — physician and medical director, FAMU; first African-American to run for the Leon County School Board.
  • Joseph Woodrow Hatchett — first black supreme court justice; first black federal judge in the South.
  • Carrie Pittman Meek* — Tallahassee native; first black woman to serve in the Florida Senate; first black to serve in Congress from Florida since Reconstruction.
  • Patricia Stephens Due — noted student leader of protests and jail-in movement.
  • Floy L. Britt — went on to become a local district 4H agent, supervising all African-American home demonstration agents in Florida.
  • Aquilina C. Howell — first woman to serve as assistant superintendent of schools in Leon County.
  • Elder Owen Smith — civil rights leader; pastor of University Church of God in Christ and Watson Temple Church of God in Christ.
  • Bishop Elbert Lee Sheppard — pastor of Watson Temple Church of God in Christ; presiding prelate of Western Florida Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction.
  • Dr. Emma Holmes Kittles — former FAMU administrator; dean of consumer science, FSU.
  • Anita L. Davis* — first black woman to serve as Leon County commissioner; NAACP President; successfully filed suit to create single-member districts for county commissioners.
  • Robert D. Perkins, Sr.* — founder of the Recreation Advisory Council for Negroes, leading charge to build first recreational facility for blacks; first Black director of Computer Center at FSU; facilitated Federal Court Action to end discriminatory hiring practices in City Government (resulted in Federal Consent Decree).
  • Trudie Chester Perkins* — one of the first black nurses at TMH; founder of Community Health Organization; facilitated Federal Court Action to end discriminatory hiring practices in City Government.
  • E. Lilyan Spencer* — community leader, pioneering principal of Bond Junior High School.
  • H. Manning Efferson — dean and vice president, former acting president at FAMU.
  • Samuel Harrison Coleman — first black U.S. postman in Tallahassee; president emeritus of the FAMU National Alumni Association.
  • Dr. Doris N. Alston* — first black school board member in the 20th century.
  • Dr. Charles L. Evans* — associate dean of the FAMU School of Business and Industry; president emeritus of the Tallahassee Branch NAACP.
  • Rev. King Solomon DuPont — pastor of Fountain Chapel A.M.E. Church; civil rights leader.
  • Rev. Daniel Boyd Speed — associate pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church; president, Tallahassee Branch NAACP; civil rights leader.
  • Cleatrice T. Speed — owner of Speed’s Grocery.
  • Dr. Charles U. Smith* — first black faculty member at FSU; first black chair of the Leon County Democratic Party; former dean of graduate studies at FAMU; civil rights leader.
  • George Calvin Bess, Jr.* — Tallahassee native and voting rights activist; killed in Mississippi while registering black voters.
  • Rev. Father David Henry Brooks* — vicar of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.
  • Rev. Dr. Herbert Clarke Alexander — pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church; professor, School of Business and Industry, FAMU.
  • Dr. Nickie Beasley — educator; principal of Griffin Middle School; assistant principal, Fairview Middle School.
  • Harry “Nick” Nims — first black administrator at Rickards High School; first black principal of Fairview Middle School.
  • Dr. Benjamin L. Perry, Jr.* — founder and first president of the Tallahassee Urban League; FAMU president emeritus; successfully maintained FAMU’s status as an independent member of the state university system.
  • B.L. Perry, Sr. — dean of education; dean of agriculture at FAMU.
  • Dr. Gilbert L. Porter — civil rights activist; principal of the original Lincoln High School.
  • Freeman D. Lawrence — last principal of the original Lincoln High School.
  • M. Lucile Williams* — principal of Bond Elementary School; area curriculum coordinator, Leon County Schools; neighborhood leader and activist.
  • Eva B. Mannings — educator; teacher at Sealey Elementary School.
  • Clyde Isler Eaton — nurse at Laura Bell Memorial Hospital; prominent Frenchtown resident; principal of Ward Elementary School.
  • Dr. Evelyn B. Martin — second black member of the Leon County School Board in the 20th century; former interim dean of the FAMU College of Education.
  • Laura Thompson Dixie* — secretary, SCLC; nurse, W.T. Edwards Hospital; civil rights activist.
  • Lizzie Smith Dennis — one of the first black nurses at TMH; civil rights activist.
  • Leander J. Shaw, Jr. — first black supreme court chief justice.
  • James H. Abner — principal of the original Lincoln High School.
  • Noah Webster Griffin — principal of the original Lincoln High School.
  • D. Edwina Stephens — neighborhood activist; nurse at FAMU Hospital.
  • James R. Ford, Sr. — first black elected city official in the 20th century; school administrator; first black mayor.
  • Nancy E. Russell* — educator; principal of Leonard Wesson Elementary School.
  • Dorothy Nash Tookes* — founder of the Tookes Hotel in Frenchtown; educator; founder and first principal of Bond School.
  • Dr. Devurn H. Glenn — first black assistant school superintendent; principal of Nims Middle School.
  • Beulah Bruce Gregory — first director of the Dade Street and Walker-Ford Centers; one of the first black administrators hired with the city of Tallahassee.
  • M.S. Thomas — dean of mechanical arts at FAMU.
  • Eddie Barrington — barber; Tallahassee bus boycott participant.
  • Wilhelmina Jakes Street — educator; one of the FAMU students who initiated Tallahassee bus boycott.
  • Carrie Patterson Williams — one of the initiators of the Tallahassee bus boycott.
  • Coach Alonzo Smith “Jake” Gaither — head football coach at FAMU; winningest coach in college football history at that time (1945-1969).
  • Mercedes Williams — nurse, FAMU hospital; one of the first black nurses at TMH.
  • Dr. Sybil Collins Mobley — founder and dean emeritus of the FAMU school of business and industry.
  • Dr. George W. Gore, Jr. — president emeritus of FAMU.
  • Rev. Moses General Miles — dean of students at FAMU; pastor of Philadelphia Primitive Baptist Church.
  • Rev. George Henry “G.H.” Wilson — pastor of Greater Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church.
  • Attorney Robert L. Williams — last dean of the original FAMU College of Law.
  • Rev. Gus Ward Hill — pastor of Testerina Primitive Baptist Church; played significant role in the establishment of the Miracle Hill Nursing and Convalescent Center.
  • Rev. Richard Matthews — moderator of the Old West Florida Primitive Baptist Association; pastor of Friendship Primitive Baptist Church and St. Mary Primitive Baptist Church on Georgia Street.
  • Johnie Robinson — noted and prominent businessman; founder and owner of Robinson’s Grocery in Bond Subdivision; organized the Brotherhood of Maintenance Railroad Employees.
  • Harkless Hadley — owner of Hadley’s Groceries on Brevard Street in Frenchtown.
  • Joe Morris — owner of Cherry Hill Grocery in Bond Subdivision.
  • Aldonia Hadley Flowers — noted community leader and civil rights activist; teacher at the original Lincoln High School, who forced assignment to Lively Vocational School following school desegregation.
  • Virgil Lynn Elkins — area program specialist and county extension agent at FAMU.
  • Mose Pemberton — worked as head custodian at Lewis State Bank for more than 42 years; received FAMU president’s award for having graduated the highest number of children from the university (1972).
  • Mary Porter Pemberton — received FAMU president’s award for having graduated the highest number of children from the university (1972).
  • Daisy Young — assistant director of admissions at FAMU; outspoken civil rights activist and NAACP youth advisor.
  • Dr. Courtney Emery “C.E.” Walker — dean of agriculture and home economics at FAMU; neighborhood activist; namesake of the Walker-Ford Center.
  • Dr. James N. Eaton, Sr. — FAMU history professor who founded the university’s Meek-Eaton Black Archives.
  • Dr. Charles A. Walker — dean of the College of Pharmacy at FAMU
  • Austin Porter — Waverly Plantation overseer; family members started the first May 20th emancipation day celebrations in Tallahassee.
  • Cecil Hill Walker — became principal of the original Lincoln High School at age 20; secured the school’s accreditation for the first time since its founding in 1867.
  • Matthew Estaras — principal of FAMU high school.
  • Thomas Strong — proprietor of Mitchell Funeral Home, which eventually became Strong & Jones Funeral Home.
  • Walton S. Seabrooks — principal of Bond Elementary School.
  • Nathan B. Young — president of Florida A&M College for Negroes.
  • Dr. L.H.B. Foote — medical director, FAMU Hospital; namesake of the Foote-Hilyer Administration Center.
  • Wilmoth Henry Baker — owner and operator of Baker’s Pharmacy for more than 40 years.
  • Kathleen “Kitty” Starke Baker — first black woman registered pharmacist in Leon County; owner and operator of Baker’s Pharmacy for more than 40 years.
  • Dr. Alexander D.J. Brickler — first black physician hired at TMH.
  • Edwin F. Norwood, Sr. — president of the Tallahassee Branch NAACP; first black to be employed in the office of the Governor.
  • Rev. J. Metz Rollins — pastor of Trinity United Presbyterian Church on Gore Avenue; bus boycott participant.
  • William “Bill” McGill — Gadsden County commissioner; former executive director of the community action program; advocate for civil rights and social justice.
  • Dr. Leedell W. Neyland — university historian, provost and vice president for academic affairs at FAMU.
  • Howard “Doc” Roberts — owner of Economy Drugs; organizer of the FAMU School of Pharmacy.
  • Geraldine Douglass Roberts — first graduate of the FAMU School of Pharmacy class; retired FAMU faculty member and owner of Economy Drugs.
  • W.H. Hill — owner of Café Deluxe in Frenchtown.
  • Coach James “Billy” Oliver, Jr. — original Lincoln High School teacher and football coach.
  • Robert Frank Nims — longtime assistant principal and principal of the original Lincoln High School.
  • Philip John Nelson — first black principal of Rickards High School.
  • Virginia Landers Lawrence — secondary schools coordinator, Leon County Schools; FAMU High School principal.
  • John Gilmore Riley — educator, civil rights activist; principal of the original Lincoln High School.
  • John Proctor — last black member of the Florida Legislature during the pre-Jim Crow era.
  • Dr. William P. Foster — director of bands and founder of the FAMU Marching “100”.
  • Coach Hansel E. Tookes, Sr. — FAMU physical education professor; assistant football coach and athletic director.
  • Dr. Ralph W. Turner — FAMU dean of arts and sciences.
  • Millicent Clark Holifield — founder of Tallahassee’s first black nursing program.
  • Nannie S. McGuinn — FAMU dean of women.
  • Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs — Reconstruction-era state legislator; founder and first vice president of FAMU.
  • J. Virginia Hilyer — first registered nurse at FAMU; nursing instructor and hospital superintendent.
  • Dr. Frederick S. Humphries — FAMU president emeritus.
  • Rev. Ira D. Hinson — pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church.
  • Dr. William H. Gray, Jr. — president of Florida A&M College; Baptist minister and civil rights leader.
  • Matthew Bryant, Sr. — established businesses in Frenchtown, Smokey Hollow and Bond Community. Established Bryant’s Bail Bondman’s and Bryant Grocery Store.
  • Henry Shingles — owner and operator of Shingles Chicken Shack.
  • Robert “China Doll” Parramore — world’s second fastest human; athlete; developer.
  • Suwanee “W.S.” Lewis — educator.
  • Major James Morgan, Jr. — the 3rd black deputy hired with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in the 20th century.
  • Sergeant Fred D. Lee, Sr. — one of the first of 3 black officers hired with the Tallahassee police department in the 20th century.
  • Nevada Beasley — educator.
  • Johnny Young — first black to own property in Bond Subdivision.
  • Charles Howard — contractor.
  • Dr. Eunice J. Burgess — FAMU nursing dean emeritus.
  • J. Luther Thomas — FAMU library director.
  • Rev. Dr. C.C. Cunningham — FAMU director of careers, counseling and placement.
  • Dr. Lua S. Bartley — FAMU health and physical education professor.
  • Coach Bobby Lang — FAMU head track coach.
  • Lula B. Cropper — FAMU professor of elementary methods and geography; dean of women.
  • O.J. Chestnut — civil rights activist.
  • Rev. Milton Cox — pastor of Trinity United Presbyterian Church.
  • Dr. Leander J. Shaw, Sr. — FAMU dean of graduate studies.
  • Attorney Ed Duffee, Jr. — civil rights attorney
  • Al McCoy — major league baseball player; equal opportunity employment officer for the city of Tallahassee;
  • Rev. Dr. James Hudson — FAMU professor and university chaplain.
  • ‘Major’ C.J.A. Paddyfote — FAMU men’s counselor and commandant.
  • Coach Robert Mungen — FAMU assistant physical education professor and football coach.
  • Coach Costa Kittles — FAMU professor, head baseball coach and assistant football coach.
  • Dr. Elsie Wallace — FAMU professor, reading specialist and founder of the university reading clinic.
  • Dr. Victoria Efferson Warner — FAMU distinguished professor, social worker and community activist; founder of the university’s school of social work.
  • Coach Robert “Pete” Griffin — FAMU physical education professor, head track coach, and head football coach.
  • Anita Prater Stewart — FAMU associate professor of health and physical education.
  • Dr. Charles Billings — FSU professor of political science; city commissioner.
  • Annie L. Cooper — FAMU dean of women, acting vice president for student affairs and dean of students.
  • Josie Duncan Speed — educator, English teacher at the original Lincoln High School.
  • Nathaniel “Nat” Adderley — musician.
  • Dr. Walter L. Smith — FAMU president emeritus.
  • Alyce E. McLin — educator at Riley and Bond Elementary schools.
  • Lessie Graham Sanford — educator.
  • Emily A. Copeland — FAMU professor of library science; chair of library service department.
  • Julian “Cannonball” Adderley — musician.
  • Annie Lee Gordan Perry — first Jeanes teacher-supervisor for Leon County Schools.
  • Dorothy Gunn Holmes — Jeanes supervisor for Leon County Schools.
  • Sylvester Beasley — FAMU professor of automotive technology.
  • Lucinda Lawrence — one of the first teachers at Bond School; thirty-year Leon County educator.
  • Eunice Spencer Carter — teacher at Dawkins Pond, Rainey, Cobb, and original Lincoln schools.
  • Genevieve Wheeler Thomas — FAMU dean of the school of home economics.
  • Ellen O. Paige — FAMU home economics professor, athletics pioneer; hostess of female students.
  • Dr. William J. Gunn — first black Tallahassee physician.
  • Edward A. Pottsdamer — owner of E.A. Pottsdamer cigar factory; educator and businessman.
  • Dr. Jacqueline Bolden Beck — FAMU dean of allied health sciences.
  • Abram Crowell — Welaunee Plantation sharecropper; pioneering member of St. Peter Primitive Baptist Church.
  • Odell McGreen — first black nurse in Leon County, who organized health clinics in all “colored” county schools.
  • Rev. C.P. Allen — pastor of St. Mary Primitive Baptist Church on West Call Street.
  • J.R.D. Laster — Leon County’s first black funeral director; owner of Laster Funeral Home.
  • Minerva L. Adams — educator.
  • Willie Kershaw Perkins — civil rights activist; taught at Griffin Junior High School for 45 years.
  • Rev. A.J. Kershaw — presiding elder, A.M.E. church.
  • Rev. Dr. Bernyce Hall Clausell — founder and pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.
  • Willie Galimore — former FAMU football player; NFL star.
  • Jubie Barton Bragg, Sr. — FAMU vice president; acting president; athletic director; head football coach.
  • J.R.E. Lee, Sr. — president of Florida A&M College.
  • Althea Gibson — FAMU graduate; world-renowned tennis champion.
  • Rev. A.C. Redd — civil rights leader; pastor of St. James C.M.E. Church.
  • Rev. H. McNeal Harris — civil rights leader; pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church.
  • Rev. W.W. Wood — pastor of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Sevilla Burney Tillman — Leon County native and founder of Tillman’s Funeral Home.
  • Robert “Bob” Hayes — world’s fastest human; first person to win an Olympic gold medal and super bowl ring.
  • Lewis Washington Taylor — teacher at Centerville and Bel Air schools; treasurer of the “colored” emancipation day celebrations.
  • Lucretia McPherson Taylor — former slave, master cook and seamstress; well-known and respected among black and white citizens.
  • G.W. Conoly — FAMU agricultural education instructor; director of alumni affairs.
  • Dr. Margaret Williams Lewis — FAMU dean of nursing.
  • William R. Perkins — principal of Griffin Junior High School.
  • Dr. Lillie Smith Davis — chairwoman of the FAMU elementary education department.
  • Mamie J. Strong* — nursing supervisor at FAMU hospital; co-owner of Strong & Jones Funeral Home.
  • Elbert W. Jones — co-owner of Strong & Jones Funeral Home.
  • Dr. M.C. Williams — dentist and civil rights activist.
  • James O. Mobley — businessman and civil rights activist.
  • Malachi Andrews — civil rights activist.
  • Willie James Gardner, Jr. — educator.
  • Edward “Ned” Guy Crump, II — owner of Crump’s Tavern and Crump’s Pool Hall.
  • Dr. Charles C. Kidd, Sr. — longtime FAMU dean of engineering sciences, technology and agriculture.
  • Josiah T. Walls — FAMU agricultural instructor and former U.S. Representative.
  • Father James Page — former slave; pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church; Reconstruction-era Leon County commissioner.
  • Rev. John N. Stokes — Reconstruction-era Tallahassee city councilman; Baptist minister; blacksmith; second black sheriff of Leon County.
  • Phillip DeCoursey — first black sheriff of Leon County.
  • Rev. Robert Meacham — founder of Bethel A.M.E. Church.
  • W.C. Twine — shoemaker.
  • Dr. Alpha Omega Campbell — founder of Laura Bell Memorial Hospital in Frenchtown.
  • Dr. Freddie J. Martin — dentist.
  • Dr. J.R. Bate — chief of the FAMU department of obstetrics.
  • A.A. Turner — pioneer worker with the Negro division of the Florida agricultural extension service.
  • Rev. Charles H. Pearce — first Leon County superintendent of public instruction.
  • Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs — first black secretary of state.
  • Nelson McPherson — former slave; Seaboard Railway line worker; preacher.
  • Rev. A.B. Spencer — pastor of Fountain Chapel A.M.E. Church.
  • Elder Edmond Griffin — founder and pastor of Greater Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church.
  • Rev. Mace Jenkins — pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Rev. William Burns — pastor of First Institutional Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Rev. David Henderson — pastor of Jacob Chapel Freewill Baptist Church.
  • Dr. Mahlon C. Rhaney — FAMU professor of biology; vice president for academic affairs; dean of the college of humanities and social sciences.
  • Alice Clotelle Peacock — community activist; teacher at the original Lincoln High School and Leon High School.

HONORABLE MENTIONS
LOCAL CENTENARIANS WHO ARE STILL ALIVE

  • Mattie Hall Mobley – Age: 110; civil rights activist and beautician.
  • Dr. Anne Richardson Gayles-Felton* – Age: 100; retired chair of the FAMU department of secondary education

The Florida Civil Rights Museum, Inc.℠ will provide a $250 cash prize to the first person who researches and provides further biographical information on 50 of the 200 individuals named on the list — with the caveat being that the 50 people you provide do not include any individual already profiled on the museum’s website at floridacivilrightsmuseum.org.

The contest will begin on February 29, 2024, and conclude on April 4, 2024.

* DENOTES that pioneer has already been featured in museum’s online exhibit.