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Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, tears up as she recalls the day she was arrested 50 years ago for protesting against racial segregation in Tallahassee. Joyner was honored Wednesday at the Florida Capitol for her efforts on behalf of equality in Florida a half century ago. This is video of Sen. Joyner at the press conference, along with photos showing her protesting in 1963, as well as the Florida Theater – a whites-only theater in Tallahassee where she was arrested for protesting segregation in the summer of 1963.

Video by

Capital Soup Editor’s Note:

The Senate Democratic Caucus sent a news release highlighting legislation tackling additional civil rights issues filed for the upcoming legislative session:

TALLAHASSEE – In the late summer of 1963, Arthenia Joyner was one of more than 200 students arrested for protesting the segregation of The Florida Theater – a popular whites-only movie house in the Capital City, just a few blocks from the state Capitol. Her second act of defiance in less than 6 months landed the Florida A&M University student – now the incoming leader of the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus – in the Leon County Jail, where she would remain for 2 weeks.

On Wednesday, members of the Caucus gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of Senator Joyner’s stand for equality, and to highlight legislation they’ve filed to advance the cause of civil rights in Florida.

“Today, we honor a pioneer among us, a woman so determined in her struggle for civil rights she was willing to go to jail to achieve them,” said Senator Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat who has re-filed legislation (SB 96) allowing Hispanic and other legal immigrants receiving deferred action (DACA) with no criminal history to obtain a driver’s license. “Because of her actions, the path has opened for us to step up to the plate on behalf of other people, other groups, and other communities whose turn for equality and civil rights has come.”

Civil rights legislation sponsored by the Senate Democrats include Senate Bill 300 by Senator Dwight Bullard (D-Miami) which would end the disparity in higher education tuition rates for immigrant children. “Today education is such a necessity in our global marketplace,” he said. “The fact that we would charge some students more for the same education is absolutely absurd.”

Another bill would, unless required by law, “ban the box” on criminal background check-off boxes on initial employment applications. “We expect those who have broken the law to pay their debt and then become contributing members of society,” said Senator Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth), the sponsor of SB 234. “Then we place so many barriers in their way, it pushes them back to a life of crime. These practices disproportionately affect minorities and we need to break the cycle.”

A third bill zeroes in on an issue of critical importance to rights of the LGBT community, namely setting statewide standards for domestic partnerships. “Last year the Senate made history by hearing this bill,” said Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) who is once again sponsoring the domestic partnership registry bill. “This year, I want to make history by passing the bill through the Legislature.”

All of the legislation highlighted on Wednesday is part of a larger package of measures sponsored by Senate Democrats for the 2014 legislative session addressing issues of inequality and civil rights affecting a growing multitude of Floridians. Other such bills include protections of working pregnant women from discrimination in places of employment place (SB-220) by Senator Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando), and Senate Bill 348 by Senator Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) which would protect the LGBT community from discrimination beyond employment, such as housing.

“The struggle for civil rights is never ending,” said Senator Joyner. “Little did I know 50 years ago that my journey would take me from the floor of the Leon County Jail to the Floor of the Florida Senate. But so long as one group can be isolated and demeaned because of the way they were born, the place they were born, or the conditions in which they entered this world, the struggle for civil rights is not over.”




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         CONTACT:           MICHELLE DeMARCO

November 6, 2013                                                                                                     850.487.5833


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