Born in the South but raised in the Midwest, Homer Floyd went to University of Kansas on a football scholarship. After graduation, he played in Canada's professional league, but soon realized "there was life after football" and became active in civil rights. He came to Harrisburg in 1970 as executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) and has worked effectively with numerous state and city administrations, beginning with Gov. Shaffer and Mayor Swenson. Reginald Guy, co-founder of the Martin Luther King Leadership Development Institute and his wife, Dorothy, honored Floyd as the “Dean of Civil Rights in Pennsylvania” on his 80th birthday.
When Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, he was carrying a note with Homer C. Floyd’s name in it. He’s been involved in civil rights for 50 years dealing with racial segregation, school integration, equal pay for women, and the resurgence of hate groups. He was head of the Kansas Commission on Civil Rights Jan. 19, 1968, when he shared the stage with King. That turned out to be King’s last speech to a college audience. After King’s assassination, people found notes from that talk in his suit pocket, including Floyd’s name, according to university officials.
In the 70s, he fought so a black doctor could be buried in a central PA white cemetery, and so the Harrisburg Moose Lodge would serve black guests. In the 80s, the commission pushed a school district to pay the same salaries for men and women coaches. In the 90s, the commission protected a single mother and four children from housing discrimination. In his last ten years, they fought predatory lenders.
Watch this episode and more with a PCN Select subscription!