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Year in Review: February 2012

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Losing an icon, tragedy in Havana

By Alice Du Pont

Patricia Stephens Due, civil rights icon, lost her courageous battle with thyroid cancer Feb. 7. She was 72. She passed in a nursing home in Smyrna, Ga., surrounded by loved ones.

She led the first jail-in in the nation in 1960, refusing to make bail for her arrest at a Woolworth lunch counter in Tallahassee. The jail-in caught the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson, who praised her for her courage and wrote her encouraging letters.

She and her sister, Priscilla, founded the first Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) chapter in Tallahassee.
Due earned many literary awards for a book co-authored with her daughter, Tananarive Due, “Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights.”

Her activism caused her to be suspended from Florida A&M University several times, but she earned a degree in 1965. FAMU later conferred upon her the Doctor of Humane Letters Degree. She was the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Outstanding Leadership, among her honors.

Domestic violence led to a murder-suicide in Havana when the peace on Third Street was shattered in the early morning hours Feb. 1. Marzell Mann, 66, shot and killed his live-in girlfriend Rosa Jackson, 51, and turned the gun on himself.
Havana Police Chief Glenn Beach said a police officer was dispatched to the home around 6:30 a.m. after Mann called 911 from the residence and said he had shot his girlfriend. When the officer arrived, Mann was standing on the porch and began shooting at the officer but all of the rounds missed. He then went back into the house, where he barricaded himself him before killing himself.

Two Gadsden County elementary schools were named among the top public schools in the state in February. According to the Florida Department of Education elementary school rankings, Gadsden Elementary Magnet School was ranked No. 10 in the state, while Stewart Street Elementary came in at No. 25.

The DOE ranks elementary schools based on each school’s total grade points, which is calculated based on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test results and the number of students who achieve a certain level in reading, mathematics, science and writing with learning gains in reading and math as well as other criteria.