Arthenia Joyner is an African-American, Democratic state senator from Tampa, but 50 years ago she was a college student getting arrested for being a nonviolent protester just minutes from the state capitol in Tallahassee.
“Everything was segregated. You couldn’t go anywhere,” Joyner said. That’s why she was protesting outside Tallahassee's Florida Theater, the whites-only theater where she was arrested.
Florida Senate Democrats held a press conference Wednesday to honor Joyner’s contribution to civil rights, and to present a group of bills the caucus says would address a number of discrimination and equality issues.
The bills include one that would eliminate pregnancy discrimination in the workplace and another that would give undocumented immigrants a pathway to in-state tuition. Joyner said these bills are part of her long-running fight for equality.
“It’s important every day that we continue to fight for equality," she said. "We’re rolling out this agenda and we hope that this year ... all of the bills will pass, and if not, then we’ll continue to file them.”
Democratic senators presented their bills and thanked Joyner for her activism. Republican Senate President Don Gaetz was also present to thank Joyner for her contribution to civil rights.