Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Panhandle civil rights leader to be honored

PENSACOLA — Longtime Florida civil rights fighter H.K. Matthews is set to receive an honor previously given to Nelson Mandela and Coretta Scott King.

The Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday that the 86-year-old Matthews will be honored with the "Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Award" for his lifetime of work to advance civil rights by Atlanta's Morehouse College on Aug. 16 in a special ceremony at the Mattie Kelly Fine and Performing Arts Center in Niceville.

Matthews was a leader in the civil rights movement in the Panhandle in the 1960s and 1970s.

He led sit-in protests at segregated Pensacola lunch counters and led efforts to remove the "Rebel" mascot from the local high school.

Matthews marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala., in 1965.

"When the call came out from Dr. King to come to Selma and join the march, I just dropped my little mop bucket and went," Matthews told the newspaper. "If I had known what I would have faced when I got there, I would have stayed here. It was bad. Horrible."

Matthews also led protests against the Escambia County Sheriff's Office in the mid-1970s after a black motorist was shot and killed by a deputy.

On Feb. 24, 1975, Matthews was arrested for unlawful assembly and felony extortion. Matthews was sentenced to five years of imprisonment, but received clemency after serving 63 days. He was eventually pardoned.

In all, he has been arrested 35 times for non-violent protest.

"We are indebted to you for your stalwart and dedicated leadership for non-violence and human rights," Lawrence Carter, founder of the Morehouse Interfaith Institute for Global Ethics and Reconciliation, wrote in a letter to Matthews.

Matthews said it is gratifying to know he made a difference.

"I was driven by seeing the injustices that prevailed during that time," said Matthews, who grew up in Snow Hill, Ala. "I was tired of seeing how my grandmother was treated. I was tired of the injustice. I was tired of no justice."

Matthews continues his work today from the pulpit where he preachers in Brewton, Ala.

Panhandle civil rights leader to be honored 08/02/14 [Last modified: Saturday, August 2, 2014 9:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Time to breakout out the Bucs fan's emergency kit?


    A fan in a throwback jersey waits for the start of a game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
  2. Plan your weekend: Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, MarineQuest, Florida Orchestra pops in the park, rodeo


    Plan your weekend


    Music weekend: Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and Bruno Mars all in one weekend? We have a playlist of a weekend coming up. Thursday brings Bruno's sold-out 24K Magic World Tour to Amalie Arena. The next day brings the country power …

    Bill Clark and Danelle Dasouqi admire the chalk art on the side walk during the final day of the three day Chalk Art Festival in Clearwater Beach. JIM REED/STAFF
  3. Lightning approaches decision time for Mikhail Sergachev

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev had dinner with his host family from juniors Monday.

    The Lightning has to decide, as early as this weekend whether Mikhail Sergachev will stick in the NHL or return to juniors for another season. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  4. Tampa man charged in hit-and-run crash that killed bicyclist on I-4 exit ramp in Tampa


    TAMPA — A 44-year-old Tampa man was arrested and charged Wednesday in a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist earlier in the day.

    Christopher Jerimiah Cole, 44, of Tampa was driving this silver Mercedes on Wednesday when it struck a bicyclist on the exit ramp from eastbound Interstate 4 to southbound U.S. 301, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Cole kept driving, troopers said. The bicyclist, a 45-year-old Brandon man, died at the scene. His name was not immediately released because troopers were working to notify his family. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Quarterbacks, head coach targeting Vernon Hargreaves; 'I'm not producing,' he says


    Eli Manning gathered his receivers together during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and informed them of the weakest link of the secondary he planned to target that afternoon.

    Quarterbacks this season have a 128.7 rating when targeting Vernon Hargreaves. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]