Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead appeared at the final public forum held by the FSU Renaming Committee yesterday and told the group that he and his colleagues on the court found the pro-segregation opinions written by BK Roberts to be "shocking." Anstead noted that the court's opinions in the 1950s preventing Virgil Hawkins from attending law school because he was black--including two by BK Roberts--were offensive and that the court during Anstead's term were truly ashamed of them.
This sense of regret led the court in 1999 to hold a special ceremony to issue an unprecedented public apology to the family of Hawkins for the court's role in keeping him out of law school due to his race. Anstead told the committee this was the only time in its history that the Florida Supreme Court issued a public apology. Anstead served on the Florida Supreme Court from 1994-2009, including a stint as Chief Justice from 2002-04.
Other speakers also testified in support of renaming BK Roberts Hall, including me. The committee held 5 public forums in the past 8 days and will now move on to crafting a building naming policy and a recommendation to FSU President John Thrasher regarding whether BK Roberts Hall should be renamed.