FAMU College of Law honors John Due, pioneering graduates

Over 60 years ago, Florida A&M University alumnus and attorney John Due, Jr. saw a photo in Jet magazine of Patricia Stephens being arrested in Florida and dragged to jail by the police as she fought for civil rights.

He marks it as the defining moment that would ultimately lead him to become one of the 57 original graduates of FAMU’s College of Law.

“When the civil rights movement became a movement, and Patricia Stephens was arrested in 1960, that’s when I decided I needed to leave Indiana and enroll in Florida A&M University,” Due, 87, told the Tallahassee Democrat. 

FAMU alumnus, activist and attorney John Dorsey Due, Jr. is one of the 57 original graduates of the College of Law.

Due, a Terre Haute, Indiana native, who now splits his time living in Quincy, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia, attended FAMU to help bring about change.

He graduated from the College of Law in 1963. That same year, he married Patricia Stephens, a FAMU student at the time who made her tremendous mark on the civil rights movement as an activist leading non-violent civil rights demonstrations throughout the South.

Nearly 60 years later, FAMU is recognizing Due and the other 56 distinctive law school alumni by unveiling a plaque at the Meek-Eaton Black Archives on its campus.

Archived photos of Florida A&M University's original law graduates from the College of Law.

Related news: Memorializing FAMU’s hidden law school history | Opinion

Know their names: A roll call of civil rights leaders who helped shape Tallahassee

For Due, hearing about FAMU’s College of Law started with a professor of law at Indiana University who told him about the Florida institution and encouraged him to attend its relatively new college at the time.

Sherri Crump

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