Matthews, author of Victory After the Fall: Memories of a Civil Rights Activist, was recognized last month during the H. K. Matthews Commemorative Event‚ÄîA Salute to Black History Month at Pensacola Junior College.¬† Matthews “was honored for a lifetime of work Monday evening before an audience of some of Pensacola’s most prominent citizens,” writes the University of West Florida newspaper, The Voyager.¬†Hosts of civic leaders, including Governor Charlie Crist, civil rights activist Dick Gregory, and former congressman Joe Scarborough, each took a turn at the podium to offer praise, thanks, and to tell stories about Matthews many contributions to the area.¬†
Matthews also had¬†the chance to offer his own thanks to the community.¬†
From The Voyager:
In a steady tone, forceful for a man of his years, he addressed the crowd.
“Some people don’t like to be recognized,” Matthews said. “I’ve never asked anyone to make me a leader. If I do that, I am, to a degree, unfaithful to commitment. I don’t have to ask anyone to recognize me.”¬†
Ending his speech for the evening, Matthews, who had been eliciting complimentary sounds of agreement and head-nods from the gathered well-wishers, took on a persona rarely seen since the days of Dr. King, speaking in an urgent tone that sunk into the hearts of all those present. Impressing every word into the audience, he summed up the troubles from his past, and his optimism for the future.
“I’ve had some hills to climb. I’ve had some dreary days and sleepless nights,” he said. “But when I look around and think things over, I see that all of our good days outweigh our bad days. I can’t complain.”
Rev. Matthew’s book, Victory After the Fall¬†is a first-person narrative of the challenges and opportunities black citizens encountered before, during, and after the 1960s struggle for racial equality. Victory After the Fall provides a fascinating journey into the civil rights battlegrounds of northwest Florida and beyond, but it is also a story of moral courage and personal redemption.