Skip to main content

Cross-posted from Florida Netroots

Back in December of 1955, Rosa Parks challeged a city ordinance in Montgomery, Alabama that segregated transit passengers by race in refusing to give up her seat on a bus to make room for a white passenger. This single courageous act of civil disobedience started the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the civil rights movement.

In 2006, Alabama became the first state to pass the "Rosa Parks Act", which gives people convicted under segregationist laws the option of having their criminal records expunged. The following year a similar bill passed in Tennessee, but in Florida the measure failed.

Why did it fail?  A Florida Capital News article from June 2007 sheds some light on the subject:

According to state Rep. Terry Fields, a Jacksonville Democrat and sponsor of the House bill (HB 235), Rep. Charles Dean, an Inverness Republican, chair of the Safety and Security Council and candidate for the District 3 Senate seat, told him he would not support the bill.

"He told me he didn't believe in bills like that," Fields said. "I had several conversations with him but he wouldn't budge."

Charles Dean won that Senate seat.  He's being challenged for it again by Suzan Franks.

Representative Terry Fields and Senator Anthony Hill are trying again this year with House Bill 655 and Senate Bill 520. The "Rosa Parks Act" seeks a pardon for anyone convicted under segregationist laws or ordinances and for restoration of their civil rights:

940.035 Pardons for convictions under segregationist laws
or ordinances.--
37 (1)(a) Upon application to the Parole Commission, the
38 Board of Executive Clemency should strongly consider granting a
39 full pardon to any person convicted of protesting or challenging
40 a state law or local government ordinance the purpose of which
41 was to maintain racial segregation of or racial discrimination
42 against individuals. If the convicted person is deceased, an
43 application may be filed by a person who can show legal
44 authority to act on behalf of the deceased person.
45 (b) The Parole Commission shall notify the state attorney
46 of the circuit where the violation occurred after the date the
47 application for a pardon is filed with the commission. The Board
48 of Executive Clemency should strongly consider granting a full
49 pardon unless the state attorney files an objection with the
50 commission on the grounds that the conviction did not result
51 from a violation of a law or local government ordinance the
52 purpose of which was to maintain racial segregation of or racial
53 discrimination against individuals.
54 (c) If the state attorney objects, a hearing shall be held
55 at the next scheduled meeting of the Board of Executive Clemency
56 after the objection is filed. The Parole Commission shall
57 provide notice of the hearing to all interested parties.
58 (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the Board of Executive
59 Clemency is strongly encouraged to grant a pardon to a convicted
60 person who files a sworn affidavit with the board stating that
61 he or she was convicted of protesting or challenging a state law
62 or local government ordinance the purpose of which was to
63 maintain racial segregation of or racial discrimination against
64 individuals. If the information in the affidavit is later found
65 to be false, or if the violation of law by the applicant had no
66 direct relationship to or no purpose whatsoever in protesting or
67 challenging a state law or local government ordinance the
68 purpose of which was to maintain racial segregation of or racial
69 discrimination against individuals, the board may void the
70 pardon.
71 (3) A person who has received a full pardon under this
72 section is not required to disclose the fact of the conviction
73 or any record or matter relating to the conviction.

Civil Rights activists are proud of their records of civil disobedience against segregationists laws and rightfully so. Their convictions under laws that have long been ruled unconstitutional merit an official pardon.

Related Links:

2007 Florida Senate Professional Staff Analysis
Jim Crow Laws: Florida

Originally posted to meowmissy on Tue Feb 12, 2008 at 09:42 AM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site