Virgil Hawkins Historical Society Inc

Virgil Darnell Hawkins Near Okahumpka, FL

Virgil Darnell Hawkins

Virgil Darnell Hawkins (November 11, 1906 – February 11, 1988) was an African American attorney who spent many years fighting for integration after being denied admission to the University of Florida School of Law on the basis of his race. He decided to take it to the Florida Supreme Court but lost the case. Over the next 9 years, he would go before the Florida Supreme Court an additional three times and the United States Supreme Court twice.  

After years of refusing to comply with the U.S Supreme Court’s orders, the Florida Supreme Court finally signed an order that required the University of Florida to admit African Americans to its graduate programs. However, Mr. Hawkins was forced to withdraw his own application in order to convince the Federal Judge to sign this court order.  

Honoring a Famous Black Lawyer Who Fought For Equal Opportunities

Hawkins did end up attending law school in Boston, but was denied permission to take the Florida Bar exam because the school he attended was unaccredited. In 1976, the Florida Supreme Court ordered that Hawkins be admitted to The Florida Bar without having to take the exam. By the time he opened his law office in Leesburg, Florida in 1977, Virgil Darnell Hawkins was 69 years old. 

He spent the last several decades of his life fighting for the ability to practice law in Florida. Though his dream was never truly fulfilled, his efforts opened many doors for African Americans in education.  

Remember Our Black History Heroes

The Virgil Hawkins Historical Society aims to educate Floridians about the Virgil’s story and honor his legacy. Contact us today to find out how you can help support our mission and spread awareness about black history.  

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