Stephens Sisters Jail-In Papers, 1960

Series Description

Patricia Stephens Due Papers, 1939-2012.

Record Group Number:


Series Number:

N2015- 1


Due, Patricia Stephens.


Patricia Stephens Due Papers, ca. 1946-2011.


14 cubic ft.


Organized into seven series: Series 1: Correspondence/Leon County Jail, ca. 1946-2000s; Series 2: CORE/Civil Rights, 1960-2000s; Series 3: Post Civil Rights, 1960-2000s; Series 4: Awards, Appearances and Articles, 1960s-2000s; Series 5: Freedom in the Family, 1990s-2000s; Series 6: Name Files, 1960-2000s; Series 7: Family Files, 1960-2000s. Roughly chronological within series except for Series 6, Name FIles, which is alphabetical by last name.


Patricia Stephens Due was an African-American civil rights leader and activist. A Florida resident for most of her life, she was an alumna of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, educator, public speaker, author  and life-long civil rights proponent. She was born in 1939 near Quincy, Florida. She and her older sister, Priscilla, and younger brother, Horace Walter, were raised by their mother and stepfather in Belle Glade, Florida. In 1957 she was accepted into Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) to study sociology and education. During the 1959 summer break before her junior year she attended a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) conference that taught her nonviolent protesting strategies and inspired her to start the Tallahassee CORE chapter that fall.

As a student leader of the Tallahassee CORE chapter Patricia Stephens led a series of nonviolent sit-in protests at segregated lunch counters in Tallahassee. On February 20, 1960, during one of these sit-ins, Patricia and Priscilla Stephens with a group of other students were arrested. After refusing to pay the $300 fine, the Stephens sisters and six other students pioneered the nation's first "jail-in" in the student protest movement, spending 49 of their 60 day sentence in jail. As a result of their absence from school, the students were asked to withdraw from their universities and were placed on academic probation when they reapplied. That same spring while participating in a march on the Capitol in Tallahassee, Patricia Stephens sustained injuries to her eyes after she was hit in the face with tear gas at point blank range, leaving her with a permanent chronic sensitivity to light. Although her education was continuously interrupted by protests, arrests and speaking tours, Stephens eventually received her degree in 1965.

In 1963 she married a fellow civil rights activist, John Dorsey Due Jr., who was studying law at FAMU and would later become a civil rights attorney. The Dues moved to Miami to raise their three daughters, Tananarive, Johnita, and Lydia. In Miami, Patricia Stephens Due held various positions with education and social service organizations including the University of Miami. She and her oldest daughter, Tananarive, a novelist, co-wrote Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights, published in 2003.

Throughout her life, Patricia Stephens Due remained active in the Civil Rights Movement, making appearances, accepting awards, giving speeches and as a member and leader in many organizations including CORE, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Among her awards and honors were the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Outstanding Leadership, the Gandhi Award for Outstanding Work in Human Relations, the Florida Freedom Award from the NAACP and an honorary doctorate from FAMU.

In 2012 Patricia Stephens Due died of thyroid cancer at the age of 72. 

Subject Access Fields:

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Congress of Racial Equality.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)
African Americans Florida.
African American women.
African American civic leaders Florida.
Civil rights Florida Demonstrations.
Discrimination Florida
Segregation Florida
Race discrimination Florida
Race relations.
Women Awards
Women History 20th century Florida
Women Social conditions and status Florida
Women Societies and clubs Florida
Women authors, American Florida
Women in education Florida.
Women political activists Florida
Women's rights Florida
Photographs. aat
Clippings. aat
Programs. aat
Electronic mail. aat
Invitations. aat
Minutes. aat
Newsletters. aat
Reports. aat
Articles. aat
Transcripts. aat
Interviews. aat

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