Skip to Main Content

Press Release for Friday, January 17, 2020

Civil Rights Activist of Birmingham Children’s Crusade Speaks at UNF’s MLK Scholarship Luncheon

Media Contact: Amanda Ennis

 Public Relations Acting Director

(904) 620-2192


Rev. Gwendolyn Cook Webb, a civil rights activist and minister, will deliver this year’s keynote speech at the University of North Florida’s 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon, Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the Adam W. Herbert University Center, Building 43, Grand Banquet Hall, Room 1044. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m.; the program begins at noon.


An unsung hero who participated in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, one of the monumental, lesser-known contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, Webb will regale the audience with her story of how a soft-spoken young woman found her voice as a champion for human rights. 


In 1963, she and other students marched through the streets of Birmingham following the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, where four young girls lost their lives. Recognizing that she could have been one of those girls, preteen Webb was motivated to action and became a civil rights activist who would go on to assist in bringing great change to the city of Birmingham. 


After graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Webb was the second African-American female ever hired by the Birmingham Police Department. She worked her way through the ranks to earn a position as detective.  


Her life stories have been captured in two separate documentaries, the Academy Award-winning “Mighty Times: The Children’s March” and “In The Name of Love,” the later centered around her interracial marriage to Lt. William Webb, a colleague in the Birmingham Police Department. 


Webb continues to fight for human rights and serve her community as an associate minister at Hopewell Baptist Church and as the founder and CEO of both Foot Soldiers International Inc. and Sisters Informing Sisters Inc. For her commitment to equality and civil justice, she earned the prestigious “I Have A Dream” Award, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Award and numerous other accolades.  


Tickets for the event are $30 for individuals. Corporate table sponsorship is $500 for supporter level, $1,000 for silver level, $2,500 for gold level and $5,000 for platinum level. View sponsorship information and details via the website. Tickets can be purchased through the UNF Ticket Box Office online; in person at Roy Lassiter Hall, Building 8, Room 1100; or by calling (904) 620-2878. 


For additional event questions, contact Brandi Winfrey, UNF’s Intercultural Center for Peace (ICP) associate director, via email or by calling (904) 620-2475. 


This luncheon is an annual ICP event that provides scholarships to students whose leadership and service reflect King’s teachings and features an internationally acclaimed leader who speaks about the philosophy of nonviolence. During this year’s program, four student scholarships will be awarded. Past speakers include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ndaba Mandela, Blair Underwood and Terry McMillan. 


UNF’s ICP is a unit of the Department of Diversity Initiatives that recognizes the importance of equitable representation and inclusion for all students. The center supports the University's mission by helping students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of varying cultural, racial and ethnic identities.  


UNF is a nationally ranked university in Jacksonville, Florida, that is nestled on a beautiful 1,300-acre nature preserve, featuring six colleges of distinction as well as nationally recognized flagship programs, with 56 bachelor degree programs and over 75 areas of concentration.