Interview with Pensacola Civil Rights Icon

February 8, 2013

Rev. H.K. Matthews, founder and first president of the Escambia County chapter of Southern Christian Leadership Conference, visited the Independent News today to thank us for our efforts to further the improvement of civil rights in the area and to talk about the early years of the SCLC.

Rev. Matthews was beaten on the Selma March to Montgomery. When James Meredith was shot by a sniper on his March without Fear from Memphis,Tenn to Jackson, Mississippi, he joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in finishing the march.

In 1975, Rev. Matthews was arrested with 54 other protestors for a protest outside the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, which was then in downtown Pensacola. Matthews was charged with extortion because some of the protestors had supposedly shouted, “Two, four, six, eight–who shall we assassinate?. No one heard the pastor shout it, but he had organized the march. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in state prison. Gov. Reuben Askew later pardoned him.

My interview with Rev. Matthews will be in our Feb. 21 issue.

  • jeeperman February 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

    It is a shameful past Pensacola will not be rid of until those that perpetuated race separation are gone from this earth. We still have several years to go before they are dead from old age.

  • George Hawthorne February 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    A true hero of the Civil Rights Era and a model of integrity, courage and dedication to justice today.

    Thank You Rev. Matthews, my good friend the late-Rev. James “Leader” Orange always spoke very highly of you!