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Civil rights activists visit Stetson Law


Civil rights activists Ernest “Rip” Patton and David and Winonah Myers visited Stetson University College of Law on Feb. 22 as part of a special educational event organized by the local chapter of Jack and Jill of America for mothers and children in the Tampa Bay area.

Stetson Professor of Law Cynthia DeBose introduced the program, and Professor of Law Robert Bickel helped coordinate the event, celebrating the courageous activists who made history for racial equality.

“It is crucial that the younger generation understands the trials and tribulations suffered by their ancestors as well as those of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation so that they do not become complacent with the gains in civil rights enjoyed today,” said DeBose. “Parents need to remind their children of the historic struggles for equal rights. Slavery, Jim Crow laws mandating segregated public facilities, and the civil rights era are part of our history not often taught in school, so it is a parent’s responsibility to impart this knowledge to our children.”

(L-R): Civil Rights activist and Freedom Rider Ernest "Rip" Patton, Stetson Law professor Cynthia DeBose, Freedom Riders Winonah and David Myers visited Stetson Law on Friday night.

(L-R): Civil rights activist and Freedom Rider Ernest “Rip” Patton, Stetson Professor of Law Cynthia DeBose, Freedom Riders Winonah and David Myers visited Stetson Law on Friday night, Feb. 22.

Patton was a member of the Nashville Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Patton and the Myers were members of the Freedom Riders, a group of men and women who risked their lives to assert the right to be treated equally according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Freedom Riders tested the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed segregation in interstate public facilities. They traveled to bus stations throughout the Deep South that maintained illegally segregated drinking fountains, restrooms and lunch counters to assert their civil rights. They were met with violence and imprisonment.

Patton visited with law students in Bickel’s constitutional law and the civil rights movement class on Stetson’s Gulfport campus on Feb. 20. He also spoke at a capacity event on Stetson University’s DeLand campus on Jan. 22.

Patton regularly participates in Stetson University’s constitutional law and the civil rights movement course, which includes a trip through the South to the historic sites in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee where civil rights history was made. Watch a video documenting Stetson University’s educational trip by visiting the Constitutional Law and the Civil Rights Movement forum.