The Little River post office located at 140 NE 84th St. has been renamed in honor of the late civil rights trailblazer Jesse J. McCrary Jr.
“He would say that each of us was given a bag of rules and a set of tools,” said U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, who joined McCrary’s family and other dignitaries to honor McCrary with an official congressional dedication ceremony and a plaque. “And it is up to each of us to decide whether to be a stepping stone or a stumbling block.”
Wilson appealed to keep alive McCrary’s “voice” to speak up against injustice.
McCrary, born in 1937 in Blitchton, Fla., was the son of a Baptist preacher. He went on to study political science major at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, where he was a civil rights activist, organizing sit-ins in Tallahassee.
In 1967, McCrary became Florida's first black assistant attorney general.
Outside the Little River branch post office on Friday, the public watched a series of programs including a national anthem rendition by postal supervisor Tayloria McPhee-Johnson and a chorus arrangement by Jesse J. McCrary Jr. Elementary School students.
“Jesse McCrary instilled confidence in the black community to overcome obstacles,” said Renita Holmes, 52, of Liberty City, a local civil rights activist who feels she is carrying a torch passed on to her from leaders like McCrary. “Just imagine what he went through in the 60s during the struggle’s peak.”
While she enjoyed learning that McCrary was a star quarterback at his Ocala high school, Holmes thinks it took courage and brains for him to become the first African American member of the Florida Cabinet since the end of Reconstruction.
Holmes was referring to McCrary’s appointment as Florida’s secretary of state while he advocated for black civil rights. She also admired his reputation as a “giver.”
One of McCrary’s proudest moments was rescuing JESCA, the local community-services organization, from financial ruin. He took over as its unpaid chairman in 1991 and, 18 months later, left it in the black.
Following the dedication ceremony, a plaque honoring McCrary was installed inside the post office’s lobby.
“The timing was perfect,” said Lonnie Robinson, who has been a customer at the Little River Post Office for decades. “This is a great way for the community to celebrate Black History Month.”