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Congressman Alan Grayson honors civil rights heroes

Congressman Alan Grayson

Congressman Alan Grayson

Congressman Alan Grayson honors civil rights heroes

J. Willie David, III, President, Florida Civil Rights Association and five other Civil Rights Heroes earn congressional honor”.

From FCRA State Office

     ORLANDO, FL — US Congressman Alan Grayson, (FL-09) presented six fair housing advocates each with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition at the 2nd Annual Regional Fair Housing Summit held April 30 at The Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando.

   Congressman Grayson honored these individuals who have taken positive action to foster diversity and eliminate housing discrimination in Florida. Congressional Recognition Certificates was presented to six individuals for making significant contributions that support the spirit and letter of Fair Housing laws which they have demonstrated through deeds, legislation, policies, or other means. Congressional Recognition Certificates were presented to the following individuals:

   *      Former US Senator Edward Brook – Co-Sponsored the Fair Housing Act.

*      Rev. Fred Maxwell – Founder of the Grand Avenue Economic Community Development Corporation

*      Bill Thompson – HOPE Fair Housing Center

*      Billie Dean – Apopka City Commissioner

*      J. Willie David, III, Founder and President of the Florida Civil Rights Association

*      Bob Billingslea – Retired Corporate Director for Urban Affairs at Walt Disney Corporation

April is National Fair Housing Month and the Annual Regional Fair Housing Summit is just one way the Florida Civil Rights Association celebrates this important month said J. Willie David, III, the organization’s president.  

   Congressman Alan Grayson joins over 300 attendees at the 2013 Regional Fair Housing Summit in Orlando.

   Sponsors of the event include Orange County, Osceola County, Lake County, City of Orlando, Florida Commission on Human Relations, Fair Housing Continuum, HOPE Fair Housing Center, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Consumer Debt Counselors, and the Florida Civil Rights Association.

Civil Rights Heroes:

In 1968, Sen. Edward Brook, a Republican senator from Massachusetts, along with Democratic senator Walter Mondale, sponsored the Fair Housing Act. Brooke successfully extended the Voting Rights Act, and helped pass the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Brooke is the only African American ever reelected to the United States Senate. Now 93 years old and living part-time in Miami, Senator Brooke was unable to attend this Summit due to failing health. Nevertheless, we honor him for his extraordinary legislative legacy to fair housing.

   Rev. Fred Maxwell was born in 1907 in Williston, Florida. In 1992, along with Helaine Blum, he founded the Grand Avenue Economic Community Development Corporation to provide housing for “the least among us”. In 1996, the organization opened a single room occupancy apartment building to provide a permanent home for 75 people who had been homeless. The organization has developed over 600 units of housing for people struggling with homelessness and disabilities. Rev. Maxwell served as board chair of the organization until his passing in 2005 at the age of 98.  

   In 1988, a new fair housing organization was established in Miami called HOPE Fair Housing Center, and Bill Thompson was its first staff person. Bill Thompson set the bar high for fair housing enforcement in Florida. In 1994, he helped garner a $3.39 million settlement against the owners of Hamlet Estates, the largest settlement ever proposed by a respondent in a fair housing case against a private defendant at the time. Thompson helped start four other fair housing agencies in Florida, including one of our sponsors today, the Fair Housing Continuum. For his commitment to fair housing enforcement, we recognize Bill Thompson.  

   Apopka City Commissioner Billie Dean. Dean was the first Black male in Clermont to receive a college degree. He worked towards the integration of Apopka High School in 1969. Seeing the poor conditions some of the students lived in, he developed affordable housing in Apopka. As a city commissioner for 19 years, Dean has worked for the betterment of all residents of his community. For his commitment to integration and decent housing, we recognize City Commissioner Billie Dean.         

    In 2005, J. Willie David, III, founded the Florida Civil Rights Association. David is known for being a citizen advocate championing the fight for civil rights, civil liberties and social justice on behalf of individuals, communities of color, the elderly and the poor. David’s advocacy work against discrimination in housing and lending has led to numerous state and federal investigations, policy changes, and court settlements. For his leadership as founder and president of the Florida Civil Rights Association and his unwavering commitment to eliminating prejudice and discrimination in the public and private sectors, we recognize J. Willie David, III.

   Bob Billingslea, retired corporate director for urban affairs at the Walt Disney Corporation. As Chair of the Orlando Human Relations Board under Orlando Mayor Carl Langford, Bob worked to establish the Office of Human Relations in the City of Orlando and to establish single member district voting in the city, which made it possible for minorities to be elected as Orlando City Commissioners. For corporate responsibility and service, we recognize Bob Billingslea. 

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