On August 27, 1956, Tallahassee police arrested Reverend C.K. Steele and Reverend Daniel Speed for operating a carpool service without a license. Steele and Speed organized the carpool in order to provide transportation for African-Americans during the Tallahassee Bus Boycott. On October 21, Steele, Speed, and 19 others were convicted by Tallahassee judge John A. Rudd of operating an illegal transportation business and fined $11,000. In response, Steele traveled the country to raise money to pay the fines. Despite resistance by police and city officials, the boycott ultimately succeeded in desegregating public buses in Tallahassee.
Francisco A. Rodriguez was born in Tampa to Cuban parents who were members of Marti-Maceo. He started his career as a teacher but decided to go to law school at Howard University after returning from World War II to a segregated South where nothing had changed. At Howard he became involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and was appointed special counsel for the southeast region in 1952, when he returned to Tampa. In 1954, following the Brown decision, he filed numerous legal actions to desegregate schools and recreational facilities in Florida. He unsuccessfully ran for office as juvenile court judge and member of the city council.
Reverend Charles Kenzie Steele was born on February 17, 1914 in Bluefield, West Virginia. He moved to Tallahassee in 1952 and started preaching at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend Steele was one of the main organizers of the Tallahassee bus boycott that began in May 1956. He also helped Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. Reverend Steele died from bone marrow cancer in 1980 at the age of 66 in Tallahassee.
Reverend Daniel B. Speed was a minister and grocery store owner. Speed later provided bail money for students arrested at the first sit-in demonstration at Woolworth's in Tallahassee in February 1960.
Florida Memory is funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Florida Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services.