Quiet Courage committee to honor residents, student
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 2:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 2:59 p.m.
Four distinguished members of the Gainesville community and a local student will be honored at the 7th annual Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Committee awards ceremony.
This year's honorees are Sherry DuPree, Andrew R. Mickle Sr., Attorney Allison Thompson and the Rev. Dr. T.A. Wright Sr. The theme this year is "Justice on the Ropes: Winning the Battle."
The ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at Bartley Temple United Methodist Church at 1936 NE 8th Ave., and will feature a tribute to the late Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black teen shot Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman in Sanford.
The tribute to Trayvon will include a moment of silence and the lighting of a candle in his memory at the same time a candle will be lit in memory of Parks.
The committee was founded by the Rev. Milford L. Griner in 2006 to honor the legacy of Parks, a civil rights icon who became famous when she refused to give up her seat on a city bus on Dec. 1, 1955 to a white man in Montgomery, Ala. The incident sparked the Montgomery bus boycott that ended with blacks being able to sit anywhere they chose on buses. Parks died on Oct. 24, 2005, in Detroit at the age of 92.
Griner said the committee is privileged to be honoring another great group of people.
"We have the greatest respect for all of our honorees and we just want to recognize them for their quiet courage while working to keep the legacy of Rosa Parks alive," Griner said.
Also, Terry J. Robinson Jr., an eighth-grader at PASSAGE Christian Academy, will receive the Legacy Bearer Award for an essay he wrote describing the impact Parks' legacy has had on his life. The committee picks a local school each year to have their students write essays, then it chooses the best essay.
Robinson, son of Dr. Shari Robinson and Terry J. Robinson Sr., said he is "really humbled" that the committee chose his essay as the best. He said he understands the significance of Park's legacy.
"Her legacy means that she started what black people have the right to do now, and it is because of her that we have a lot of the freedoms we have now," he said.
DuPree and Thompson, both black women, said the thought of even being mentioned in the same sentence with Parks is astounding.
DuPree, who has been director of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization - Transatlantic Slave Trade for close to two years, said Parks is one of her heroes.
"I had the privilege of actually going to Montgomery, following her trail, and also to Birmingham, so I am fairly familiar with the lady, and I am just honored to be a part of this," DuPree said.
DuPree said her work with UNESCO-TST involves encouraging educational training around the world. Karen Cole-Smith, a member of the committee, wrote in a letter recommending DuPree that, "Her interest in helping others has turned into an unending research project that ensures the legacy of black history, religion, civil rights issues and other disciplines that benefit all persons."
Thompson, who came to Gainesville to become executive director of Three Rivers Legal Services in 1996, said she is "very flattered to be named in the same category with Rosa Parks," whom she described as a "courageous and valiant woman of color."
Three Rivers serves low-income residents in Gainesville, Lake City and Jacksonville.
Thompson said her career and life have been dedicated to fighting injustice and inequality, something that her family instilled in her while she was growing up in South Carolina during segregation. She also said it is important that older blacks teach younger blacks about the history and richness of black culture.
"Teaching our history to our kids is vital," said Thompson, adding that more black mentors are needed in the community. "They need to know and understand the sacrifices many have made so they can do the things they are able to do today."
Mickle, a native of South Carolina like Thompson, came to Gainesville in 1955, and has been an integral part of the community since. He is a retired teacher and administrator who taught tailoring, among other subjects, at former all-black Lincoln High School. He has also taught swimming for years in the community and was the manager of the former Lincoln Pool.
He still gives affordable swimming lessons during the summer. Mickle has also served on many boards and associations and has been a deacon at Mount Carmel Baptist Church for 46 years. He has received numerous awards for his community service and the Andrew R. Mickle Sr. Pool at T.B. McPherson Recreation Center in southeast Gainesville is named in his honor.
Mickle said he is happy to be joining past recipients of the Quiet Courage Award.
"I have experienced the awarding of this honor in previous years and I think it is one of the most honorary things that a person could receive for the service they have rendered to the community and to Gainesville," he said. "Me and my family certainly appreciate the committee for recognizing me with this honor."
Wright, who couldn't be reached for comment, is a civil rights icon in Gainesville. He came to Gainesville in 1962 to pastor Mount Carmel Baptist Church after receiving several death threats for his staunch civil rights activism in St. Augustine, where he was pastor of St. Mary's Baptist Church for eight years.
Once in Gainesville, Wright continued his fight for civil rights. In fact, his daughter LaVon Wright-Bracy was one of a handful of black students to integrate Gainesville High School in 1964, thus, also becoming the first students to integrate public schools in Alachua County.
Several years later, he became the first black to integrate a white neighborhood in Gainesville when he moved his family into a home in the Forest Ridge subdivision off NW 16th Avenue. He put that house up for sale earlier this year.