JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and U.S. Postal Service officials on Friday hosted a dedication ceremony to mark the renaming of the Kings Road post office in honor of civil rights activist Rutledge Pearson.
Lawson filed the bill to rename the post office on Aug. 1, 2017. The bill passed Congress earlier this year and became law on March 28, 2018.
“Mr. Pearson was an instrumental leader in the fight for civil rights and his efforts, both locally and nationally, helped change Jacksonville’s cultural landscape,” Lawson said during the ceremony. “Recognizing Mr. Pearson’s contributions is important to understanding the history of our city. We owe him, and others like him, a debt of gratitude.”
State Sen. Audrey Gibson, Jacksonville Branch NAACP President Isaiah Rumlin, local historian Rodney Hurst and members of Pearson’s family joined Lawson for the occasion. Councilwoman Chris Hoffman presented the Pearson family with a proclamation on behalf of the city of Jacksonville Beach.
As a young man, Pearson had a successful baseball career with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro League. His talent granted him the opportunity to play Major League Baseball in his hometown. However, because of his race, the Jacksonville Beach Seabirds rejected the notion of having Pearson join their team and ended their program to prevent Pearson from joining.
This experience propelled Pearson to pursue a career in education and to join the civil rights movement. In 1961, Pearson was elected president of the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP.
He was later elected president of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. Pearson also taught history at Isaiah Blocker Junior High School and coached baseball at New Stanton High School.
Pearson died in a car accident in 1967 at the age of 37.
Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.