Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the selection Marvin Davies, Reverend Dr. Willie Oliver Wells Sr., and John Dorsey Due Jr., 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.
Marvin Davies was born in Bradford County in 1934 and died on April 25, 2003. After serving in the United States Army, Davies attended Florida A&M University where he received his degree ranking second in his class. During his time at Florida A&M, he joined civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and participated in protests in Tallahassee, St. Augustine, and Montgomery, Alabama. Davies also worked as a coordinator of vocational counseling and job development and placement in a training program sponsored by the United States Department of Labor. In 1966, Davies was named field secretary and then executive director of the Florida State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also served as a special assistant to Governor Bob Graham and was state coordinator of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation.
Reverend Dr. Willie Oliver Wells Sr., was born in Miami in 1931 and died on November 4, 2015. After serving the United States Army, Wells received his bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a Bachelor of Theology degree from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in 1955. In 1959 Wells was selected to be a pastor at Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Cocoa. He also served as president of NAACP Brevard County chapter spearheading the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement in Brevard County. Wells also served as chairman of the Redevelopment Commission of the City of Cocoa. Among his many accomplishments, Wells established the Community Action Agency of Brevard, providing low-income day care centers, and constructed low-rent apartment complexes in Merritt Island and Melbourne. He also led the St. Paul Baptist Church in building a new $1.2 million church complex. Wells was also a Freedom Rider who led non-violent civil protests and an original member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
John Dorsey Due, Jr., was born in Indiana in 1934 and moved to Florida to attend Florida A&M University Law School in 1960. Upon graduation, Due worked as an attorney in Mississippi on behalf of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, monitoring civil rights activities and violence against civil rights activists to report to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Due worked as an attorney for the Congress of Racial Equality in partnership with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and helped to pioneer the tactic of moving civil rights cases to federal court so that clients would not be subject to Southern state courts. Due later moved to Miami and worked with Legal Services, the Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board and Community Action Agency. He was also the head of the county’s Office of Black Affairs. Due received the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and Dade County Bar Pro Bono Award, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, “Distinguished Barrister Award” from the Annual Convention of Southern Leadership Conference, and the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP Adams-Powell Civil Rights Award for outstanding community involvement.