House Passes Soto Bill to Rename Winter Haven Post Office After Civil Rights Leader
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, the House passed Congressman Darren Soto’s bill to rename a Winter Haven Post Office (1401 1st Street North in Winter Haven, Florida) after Althea Margaret Daily Mills, a civil rights hero who sued Polk County to desegregate the public schools. Congressman Soto gave the following remarks on the House Floor:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support our bill, H.R. 2969, which passed the House today.
This bill names the Florence-Villa United States Post Office, located 1401 1st Street North in Winter Haven, Florida, as the Althea Margaret Daily Mills Post Office Building. Ms. Althea Margaret Daily Mills is an unsung hero in the fight for desegregation in Florida.
Miss Mills began her education in Pughsville, Winter Haven's first black community. When she was 13, she moved to Pennsylvania to live with an aunt. There, she was able to attend integrated schools. In 1963, Mills filed a lawsuit against Polk County Board of Public Instruction to end the dual school system and allow her son to attend the then all-white Winter Haven High School. This lawsuit eventually led to an integration of all Polk County public schools.
When asked about her motivation to challenge the system, Mills would later say ‘our instructors were just as good, but some of my son's textbooks would go on to page three and skip to page 35. You just can’t learn that way.’
Ms. Mills was the first black career employee of the United States Postal Service in Winter Haven and eventually became a manager of the Florence Villa post office for which will bear her name. Although she passed in 2008, her legacy lives on.
I thank my colleagues for the support of this bill. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back.”
Althea Margaret Daily Mills was a pioneer, a trailblazer and a civil rights leader. In 1963, at a time when Polk County Schools were still segregated even a decade after Brown v the Board of Education, she led a lawsuit to desegregate schools. She did not accept the idea that her own son might receive an inferior education due to the color of his skin, nor that any other child should. Her suit, joined by others, succeeded in desegregating Polk County Schools in 1965.
She became the first Black Career Employee for United States Postal Service in Winter Haven, and the first post office station manager at Florence Villa Station. She also was a part of the city's Human Relations Committee. Known for her warmth, her laughter and faith, she passed away in the summer of 2008. Her legacy, work to better her community and drive to ensure every child has equal access to a good education, continues to live on to this day.
The full text of the bill can be read here.