Patricia Stephens Due (December 9, 1939 – February 7, 2012)

Patricia Stephens Due at Civil rights demonstration in front of segregated theater: Tallahassee, Florida (1963)

Patricia Stephens Due at a civil rights demonstration in front of a segregated theater in Tallahassee (1963).

Civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due passed away on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at the age of 72.

Due, a native of Quincy, Florida, led demonstrations and voter-registration drives in Tallahassee during the height of the Civil Rights movement. She was among a group of students from Florida A&M University jailed for attempting to integrate a segregated lunch counter at a Woolworth’s department store in downtown Tallahassee on February 20, 1960.

Due and eight of her companions from the Woolworth’s sit-in refused to pay a $300 fine, opting instead to serve jail time. Martin Luther King Jr. recognized their determination in the struggle for civil rights and sent letters to the jail. Other civil rights leaders including Jackie Robinson also contacted the group of eight in the Leon County Jail.

Due penned a letter while in the Leon County Jail, detailing her commitment to civil rights and recounting the Woolworth’s sit-in. She participated in many other demonstrations in Tallahassee in the 1960s, joined several civil rights organizations, and served as the field secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality in Tallahassee.

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks proclaimed May 11, 2011 “Patricia Stephens Due Day,” recognizing her critical role in and contributions to the Civil Rights movement in Tallahassee and beyond.

Sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter - Tallahassee, Florida

Sit-in at Woolworth’s lunch counter, Tallahassee (1960).

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5 thoughts on “Patricia Stephens Due (December 9, 1939 – February 7, 2012)

  1. “[Y]ou are suffering to make men free.”

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote these words to the 8 Tallahassee students jailed for participating in a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter.

    Patricia Stephens Due, her sister Priscilla, and Henry Steele, the sixteen-year-old son of the Reverend C.K. Steele of Tallahassee to whom King submitted the letter, were among the Tallahassee 8.

    Read the entire letter from King to the jailed students, digitized by The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University:

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