Members of the Jacksonville community gathered at the Duval County Courthouse for the unveiling of the historic plaque honoring the late Attorney Daniel Webster Perkins. Perkins is notably the first Black lawyer to be allowed to select white jurors in Jacksonville, Florida and one of the first African-Americans admitted into the Florida Bar. The plaque is erected in the lobby of the courthouse for everyone that comes in to serve on a jury will have a chance to learn about D.W. Perkins.
“The unveiling ceremony brought a sense of pride in the legacy of Black legal heroes such as Perkins. The installation and prominent placement of this historic plaque means so much for our local legal community,” said Attorney Marcus Isom Jr., President of the Jacksonville, Florida D.W. Perkins Bar Association. The former Colored Lawyers Association changed its name in honor of D. W. Perkins, who had been a founding member.
Throughout his career, Perkins was a strong voice for civil rights, an active member in the National Bar Association, the NAACP, and the Jacksonville Urban League, of which he was a charter member. He successfully argued before the U. S. Supreme Court, against legislation designed to prevent Black lawyers from practicing in Florida. In 1918, he successfully argued before the supreme Court for the Black Shriners claim to use the Shriner name and insignia.
Isom went on to say, “it’s important for all members of our community to know how hard pioneers had to fight to afford us the privileges we enjoy today. Knowing history helps me appreciate where I am today, it helps jurors value that summons, it helps everyone understand how important the legal process is.”