One of the honors in my life was nominating former State Senator and my friend, Dr. Arnett E. Girardeau to the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. I nominated "Doc," he was inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame in June of 2017, and he passed 4 months later in October 2017. Although Doc could have spoken, he and his wife Dr. Carolyn Girardeau asked me to speak at his induction ceremonies. It was an honor. Fast forward 4 months and I was at The Bethel Church saying heartfelt remarks over my friend at his Homegoing Celebration of Life. Two sweet and bittersweet moments in a 4-month span.
Whenever I am in a somber moment thinking about the passing of beloved family members and great friends, I always think back to the words of Bishop Rudolph McKissick Sr., when I asked him to give Words of Comfort at my wife Ann's Homegoing Celebration of Life, almost 6 years ago. After praying with me over the phone, Bishop said, "Rodney, grieve and mourn whatever you want. Do not let anyone take that away from you. And in the midst of your grieving, thank God for the more than 52 years he gave you and Ann together." Those words stay with me.
Using that blessing, I thank God for the friendship he allowed me and Doc to share since the 1960 Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP Sit-ins and Ax Handle Saturday. A time span of 57 years.
Dr. Arnett E. Girardeau was a trailblazer. Dr. Girardeau is the only Black to serve as Senate Pro Tempore of the Florida Senate. Were it not for Dr. Girardeau as the chair of the Florida Senate's Redistricting Committee in 1990, there would not have been two Black access seats for Blacks to elect Black representatives to Congress from the State of Florida. Seats that saw the election of Carrie Meek in Miami, and Corrine Brown in Jacksonville. Doc was responsible for those seats. The seat that Florida's Racist-in-Chief is trying to eliminate with the help of Racist elected officials in the State legislature. Doc dedicated his life to fighting Racism for his, and my, and your Black Human Dignity and Respect.
Chapter 10 in my second book, "Unless WE Tell It...It Never Gets Told!" is about Dr. Arnett E. Girardeau. We are all much better in Jacksonville, the State of Florida, and this country because of him. He made a difference.
Indulge me while I list some photographic memories of my good friend, the Honorable Senator Dr. Arnett E. Girardeau. Thank you, God, for giving us Doc for a short time but a dedicated time, to make a difference in our lives; and thank you, Carolyn Girardeau, Arnetta Girardeau, and Arnett Girardeau, Jr. for sharing your husband, and your father with a grateful Jacksonville community.
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.