John Moreno Coe

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John Moreno Coe
Born January 27, 1896
Died September 11, 1973
Occupation Attorney, politician
Spouse Evalyn Shipley (m. March 13, 1920)
Parents John McClay and Ruth Moreno Coe
Children Ruth Coe, James Mansfield Coe, Charles Shipley Coe, Evalyn Coe, Henry Wickline Coe

John Moreno Coe (18961973) was a Pensacola attorney and civil libertarian prominent during the mid-twentieth century.

In 1924 he was appointed to fill the state senate term of John P. Stokes, who moved to Miami shortly after his election. Coe was defeated in the 1926 reelection campaign, in part because of his opposition to a "Bible bill," which would have required the daily reading of King James scripture in Florida public classrooms, and a bill that would have given broad "search and seizure" latitude to state law enforcement agencies.

After returning to law full-time, Coe became increasingly involved with African-American defendants who, he felt, were not given the same treatment under the law as white defendants. He also gave legal representation to organizations such as the Pensacola Improvement Association and came to be known among the black community as simply "Lawyer Coe."

In my law practice since 1929, I have been particularly interested in defending cases of Negros who were subject to discrimination and oppression. I handled at trial and in the Supreme Court the Chavis and Cromwell cases, which resulted in permitting Negros to register and vote in the Democratic primary. I defended Will Lewis in the recent case in which indictment for rape was quashed because his race was systematically excluded from the grand jury.[1]

Coe was a member of the ACLU, president in the 1950s of the National Lawyers Guild, and state chairman of Henry A. Wallace's 1948 Progressive Party campaign. In 1950, the Kiwanis Club, of which Coe had been a 25-year member and state officer, "tried me for impure thoughts and expelled me therefrom," likely due to his opposition to the Korean War.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Sarah Hart Brown. "Pensacola Progressive: John Moreno Coe and the Campaign of 1948." Florida Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, Number 1, July 1989.