September 06, 2017

Lawson Introduces Bill to Honor Rutledge Pearson

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-5), today, introduced a bill to designate the United States Post Office at 1100 Kings Road in Jacksonville, Florida as the Rutledge Pearson Post Office.

“Rutledge Pearson, a Jacksonville native, was an American History teacher, civil rights leader, and distinguished baseball player,” said Rep. Lawson. “His legacy in Jacksonville, especially in the fight for civil rights, is long-lasting and this is a fitting way to honor his contributions to our community.”

As a young man, Rutledge 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. In fact, park officials decided they would rather close the baseball park than allow him to play.

This experience propelled Pearson to pursue a career in education and to join the Civil Rights movement in a meaningful way. In 1961, Rutledge Pearson was elected President of the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP.  He was later elected President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. 

With the NAACP, he gained a reputation for his ability to attract young people to the civil rights movement. Pearson was an instrumental leader in the fight for civil rights and his efforts, both locally and nationally, his efforts helped change Jacksonville’s cultural landscape.

Rep. Lawson’s bill has 23 co-sponsors, including U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Carlos Curbelo, Val Demings, Ron DeSantis, Ted Deutch, Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Alcee Hastings, Stephanie Murphy, Bill Posey, Francis Rooney, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Dennis Ross, John Rutherford, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Frederica Wilson, Brian Mast, Vern Buchanan and Daniel Webster.


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