Eric Simpson

Eric Simpson

Year Inducted: 2003

In April 1951, Simpson founded the weekly newspaper to report on news and developments of Blacks in Northeast Florida at a time when most newspapers ignored the Black community. Upon his death on January 9, 1994, The Florida Star was the second largest African-American weekly in the state.

The Florida Star made headlines when the U.S. Supreme Court voided a $97,500 award to a rape victim whose name had been inadvertently published in the newspaper. The information had been lawfully obtained due to an oversight of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The Supreme Court decision made unenforceable a state statute that had limited what the media could report. The Florida Star’s victory helped win an important press right for Florida newspapers.

The Florida Times-Union eulogized him in a front-page article, which read in part: “He used his paper to champion civil rights, desegregation, and equal educational opportunities for African-Americans.”