Honoring some Great Floridians'
The state of Florida presented 'Great Floridian' awards Wednesday night to former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack and, posthumously, to Harry T. Moore, the Mims civil rights leader who was killed in 1951 when a firebomb was placed under his wood-frame house. Moore's daughter, Evangeline, was escorted to the stage by Gov. Charlie Crist in ceremonies at the R.A. Gray Building.
Artist James Gibson of Fort Pierce, one of the "Florida Highwaymen," received the 2007 arts recognition award.
The highest cultural award the state can bestow is membership in the Artists Hall of Fame. Wednesday night, as part of Florida Heritage Month, that honor was given to 89-year-old Lawrence Hankins "Hank" Locklin, the country singer-songwriter who had six No. 1 hits and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1960. As he got the award, he was flanked by Secrerary of State Kurt Browning and Crist.
"I'm so happy that the good Lord has given me the beautiful songs that I put together, that he helped me put together," Locklin told the audience.
Locklin is from McLellan, Fla., a Panhandle crossroads close to the Alabama state line. His biggest hit, "Please Help Me, I'm Fallin," rocketed to No. 1 for 14 straight weeks in 1960 and was rated as the second-most popular country song in the first 100 years of country music by Billboard Magazine.