Governor Rick Scott announced the selection of Judge James. B. Sanderlin, Margarita Romo and Harry T. and Harriet Moore to the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Governor Scott chose these three from a list of 10 distinguished nominees selected by the Florida Commission on Human Relations for making significant contributions to the improvement of life for minorities and all citizens of the great state of Florida.
Governor Scott said, “As Florida marks its five hundred year anniversary, we want to honor individuals who have stood for equality in our state’s history, even in the face of adversity. These champions of freedom have paved the way for equal rights among all Floridians. This year’s three inductees into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame have acted on their conviction and truly made a difference in the countless lives here in our state and around the country. We must honor their legacy by working to ensure that all Floridians have access to a great education so they can live their version of the American Dream.”
Judge James B. Sanderlin (1929-1990); of St. Petersburg, dedicated his life to fighting injustice and discrimination against the citizens of St. Petersburg, Fla. and Pinellas County. In 1964, Sanderlin was the lead attorney representing six families in civil rights cases over classroom segregation. His efforts against the Pinellas County School Board led to desegregation in Hillsborough and Sarasota Counties. Sanderlin also led a group of sanitation workers in a four-month strike for better pay for African-American sanitation workers in St. Petersburg. As the lead attorney for a group of 12 black police officers known as the “Courageous Twelve,” Sanderlin won a lawsuit to end discriminatory assignments in segregated neighborhoods. Throughout his career, he worked tirelessly with the NAACP Legal Defense Funding in fighting discrimination and segregation, earning the NAACP Freedom Award. He was the first African-American judge in Pinellas County and dedicated into the St. Petersburg African-American Hall of Legends, according to Lane Wright, spokesperson for the Office of Gov. Rick Scott.
Margarita Romo (1938-Present), is currently the Executive Director of Farmworkers Self-Help Inc. which established assistance to seasonal and migrant farm workers. The program provides immigration assistance, job training and courses on immigration, as well as a free medical clinic, after-school programs for teens, free loaves of bread for the hungry, and the Normal Learning Center for children ages 12 and younger. Romo is a tireless champion for local migrant farmworkers in Pasco and Hernando counties, advocating and lobbying for improvements to Tommytown, a poor farm worker community on the north end of Dade City. Romo also established Agricultural Women Involved in New Goals (AWING), a self-help program designed to help women create better lives for themselves through education. In 2010, Romo was named Hispanic Woman of the year by the Tampa Hispanic Heritage, according to Wright.
Harry T. and Harriet Moore (1905-1951), both served as civil rights pioneers in Florida throughout their lives. The Moore’s advocated for civil rights in the areas of equal pay, investigating of lynching, all-white primaries and voter registration. Harry Moore founded the first branch of the NAACP in Brevard County, Florida and served as the statewide executive secretary. He also organized the Florida State Conference NAACP. Currently, a Brevard County Justice Center is named in his honor, as well as numerous other centers, events, parks, and awards. Mr. Moore received the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Champion of Justice award from the Florida Historical Society, according to Wright.