“Access. Access for the young people. Access of information, access of people, access of life.” -Homer Floyd
Homer C. Floyd is a graduate of the Washington High School class of 1955, and is considered one of the best running backs to come through Massillon. He played for Chuck Mather (1952-1953) and Tom Harp (1954), where he held the records for most rushing yards in a game and most rushing yards in a game against McKinley for 37 years. He was named to the First Team All-Ohio his senior year, and then followed Mather to the University of Kansas on a scholarship (one of nearly 50 offered to Floyd) in 1955.
His life in Lawrence, Kansas, would be much different than it was in Massillon, where he frequently faced racial discrimination. Just one year before Floyd started college, Kansas was home to the landmark civil rights case of Brown v. Board of Education establishing racial segregation in schools as unconstitutional. His experiences as a young college student drove him to become involved with the national Civil Rights Movement after a brief stint playing professional football for the Edmonton Eskimos in 1959.
In 1964, Floyd worked in Washington, DC, to help prepare regulations, procedures, and training programs for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He shared the stage with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 19, 1968, just three months before King’s assassination. A note found in King’s pocket had the name “Homer C. Floyd” written on it. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Homer settled and litigated landmark race and sex discrimination cases which opened up opportunities for minorities and women in employment, housing, public accommodations, and education, as well as advocating and settling cases for persons with disabilities, including race cases in housing involving predatory lending and modification housing for persons with disabilities. Floyd sat on the Topeka Human Relations Commission from 1964-1965, the Omaha Human Relations Board from 1965-1966, was a consultant to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1965, and was the Executive Director of the Kansas Commission on Civil Rights from 1966-1970, where he was a consultant to the US Commission on Civil Rights.
Since 1970, Floyd has served as the director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and has held positions in agencies at the local, state and federal levels. Homer has been honored by numerous organizations since his retirement in 2011, including the University of Kansas Black Alumni Chapter’s African-American Leaders and Innovators Project, and on his 80th birthday in 2016 as the “Dean of Civil Rights in Pennsylvania” by the Martin Luther King Leadership Development Institute.