Virgil Hawkins Historical Society Inc
Virgil Hawkins Monument Near Leesburg, FL
The University of Florida Integration Monument
The proposed University of Florida Integration Monument was first proposed by University of Florida students in 2013 after seeing similar monuments at other Universities. The purpose of the monument is to honor the civil rights pioneers who put their bodies and futures on the line to insure that Florida’s public universities would both comply with the Court Orders mandating desegregation and would provide an environment where efforts to discriminate against minority students in an attempt to both hinder their rights to an equal education and motivate their withdrawal from UF would not succeed. It remains a history that is both forgotten and largely unknown by most students, faculty and visitors to UF, who only see statutes of a few white athletes and deceased administrators whose racist efforts hampered the admission of minority students to UF. The monument will contain a summary of this history and its early pioneers including, Virgil Hawkins, (who was denied admission, but received a posthumous degree in 2001) George Starke, (first black student whose three-semester attendance at UF, earned him an honorary degree in 2019), W, George Allen (UF’s first graduate in 1964, who died in 2019) Judge Stephen Mickle (UF’s second black law school graduate) Don Gaffney (UF’s first black quarterback) and many others who paved the way for the right of minority students to attend UF as an act that did not require the fight of these pioneers. The need for this monument is urgent, both because many of these pioneers are elderly and in the final years of their lives and because minority enrollment at UF has declined in recent years.
Help Us Petition the University of Florida to Honor One of Its Most Important African American Heroes Who Was Never Allowed to Attend
The proposed monument will feature Mr. Virgil Hawkins passing on a diploma to the first African American UF students. Each student passes a diploma on to the next until the final graduate who offers a diploma to the next generation of UF students. We are well on our way to gathering 1,000 signatures to petition UF to erect this monument. You can sign the petition here.
Why Does UF Need an African American History Monument?
Virgil Hawkins sacrificed his dream of becoming a member of the Florida Bar so that other African Americans could experience the opportunities that he was denied. For this reason, we regard Hawkins as a hero that deserves recognition and remembrance. The proposed monument would remind students of the history behind integration and how far we’ve come since then. The university has erected monuments for athletes, animals, and more, but have neglected to honor this African American civil rights hero despite pleas from their students.