H. K. Matthews

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H. K. Matthews
Born February 7, 1928
Snow Hill, Alabama
Occupation Civil rights leader, minister, educational administrator
Religion A.M.E. Zion
Spouse Bobbie Matthews
Parents John Henry and Louveenia Johnson Matthews

Reverend Hawthorne Konrad (H. K.) Matthews (b. 1928) is an African-American minister who was active during the civil rights movement in the Pensacola area and was arrested 35 times for his political activities.

Born in Snow Hill, Alabama and raised by his grandmother, Lucy Purifoy Johnson, he attended Alabama A&M University for three years before serving in the Korean War. Moving to Pensacola in 1955, he became active with the church community and was mentored by Reverend W. C. Dobbins. He was ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1961.

Matthews became involved with the local NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference chapters during the civil rights movement. As president of the Pensacola Council of Ministers, Matthews led sit-in protests that successfully integrated Palafox Street lunch counters. He also helped the successful efforts to get blacks hired at such businesses as Sacred Heart Hospital, Southern Bell Telephone Company and West Pensacola Bank.

In 1965, Matthews participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King and was gassed and beaten by white police officers.

In the early 70s, Matthews led efforts to remove the "Rebel" mascot and other Confederate symbols from the Escambia High School athletics department.

After a black motorist, Wendel Blackwell, was killed at point-blank range by Sheriff's Deputy Doug Raines on December 20, 1974, Matthews and others urged an investigation into the shooting. Sheriff Royal Untreiner refused to discipline the deputy, and Matthews led a number of protests at Escambia County Sheriff's headquarters. At one of the demonstrations, on February 24, 1975, sheriff's deputies arrested nearly 50 people for unlawful assembly, including Matthews and Rev. B. J. Brooks, who were also charged with felony extortion. They were convicted on June 10. Matthews was sentenced to five years' hard labor in state prison, but received clemency after sixty-three days.

After his release, Matthews was effectively blacklisted and unable to find gainful employment in the area. He left Pensacola in 1977.

Matthews received a full pardon in 1979. The City of Pensacola named H. K. Matthews Park for him in 2006.

Matthews published an autobiography, Victory After The Fall, in 2007.