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Community Activist Alton Yates Featured in Second Installment of Jacksonville Legacy Series

February 8th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Leadership Jacksonville recently held a VIP premiere party for the Alton Yates feature in WJCT’s studio

Leadership Jacksonville announces that Jacksonville community activist and civil rights leader Alton Yates will be the feature of the next video in its Jacksonville Legacy Series, an ongoing video series showcasing some of the region’s most prominent leaders who positively impact the First Coast community. The video will air on WJCT at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14.

Produced by Lindsey Films, the video spotlights Lt. Col. Alton Yates, who served as a volunteer test astronaut in the early space program and was an influential leader during the civil rights movement in Jacksonville. In 2008, Yates received a Governor’s Medal of Merit from Florida Governor Charlie Crist for dedication to the nation and his community.

Yates volunteered for the Rocket Sled Testing Program at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and he spent four years riding the “Bopper” – a sled that accelerated from zero to more than 400 miles per hour, and then came suddenly to a stop.

Upon returning to Jacksonville, he became vice-president of the NAACP’s Youth Council and worked non-violently to attempt to end segregation. In August of 1960, Yates was present during “Ax Handle Saturday,” a tragic, turning point event in Jacksonville’s civil rights history.

Yates also worked as an Equal Opportunity officer in the Florida Air National Guard’s St. Augustine headquarters, served as an aide to the Jacksonville mayor during five administrations and was executive director of the city’s Community Relations Commission. His wife of more than 45 years, Gwen, served as a Jacksonville city council member.

Leadership Jacksonville is continuing to seek funding and support for the Jacksonville Legacy Series, which is currently supported through fundraising initiatives led by Leadership Jacksonville. To learn more about the project or to donate funds, call Isabelle Owen Spence at (904) 396-6263. More information about Leadership Jacksonville is available at www.leadershipjax.org.

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