Erected in February of 1991, at Virgil Hawkins Circle, Okahumpka, Florida, a few blocks from Hawkins birthplace, the monument is located next door to the Okahumpka Post Office, 3 miles east of Florida Turnpike Exit 296, one block from the intersection of Cty Rd 470. SR 33 and SR 48. The monument was designed by Harley Herman using Hawkins' T-shirts to raise support and funds for the monument. Similar T-shirts are now part of the effort to erect an integration monument at the University of Florida
Called "The South's Most Patient Man" in an October 1958 Ebony Magazine article, Virgil Darnell Hawkins' lawsuit to desegregate the University of Florida is unique as he had to give up his right to attend UF after a decade of litigation (1949 - 1958),to obtain an Order ending Florida's segregation of its public universities after illegal defiance by Florida's Supreme Court and Governor of direct Orders of the U. S. Supreme Court to admit Hawkins to UF. The decision prevented him from becoming a lawyer until he was 70 years old, when without the legal skills he would have acquired if admitted to UF, and hampered by poverty and ill-health, Florida stood by until they could punish him for mistakes and destroy the final years of his life.
Within days after Virgil Hawkins died in poverty and disgrace, Herman began a campaign to restore Hawkins' right to be honored and remembered. As described in this site, three decades later, these efforts continue, including an active effort to reverse the University of Florida's refusal to grant a student request for a monument to Mr. Hawkins and UF's first African-American students.
One man's sacrifice of his dreams to open doors for future generations. A story worth sharing.
Monument location: Virgil Hawkins Cir, Okahumpka, Florida 34762, United States
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