Clay Man Doesn't Mind Taking on Challenge; Paige Serves on Human Relations Panel

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

As a federal employee with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Roosevelt Paige spent nearly three decades helping eradicate discriminatory housing practices throughout Clay Country.

Now, he sits on a 12-member state board that oversees non-discrimination policies throughout Florida and reviews administrative law judges' rulings in hundreds of discrimination complaints annually.

Paige, a former president of the Clay County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was reappointed by Gov. Jeb Bush last week to a full four-year term on the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

The 67-year-old community leader, who previously had been appointed to fill a vacancy on the panel, currently is the board's vice chairman. Paige said his background with HUD had fully qualified him for his volunteer role at the state level.

"I worked in the area of discrimination in housing for 26 years," he said, adding that now the scope of his social responsibility extends to helping end discrimination in "housing, employment, harassment and things like the situation in Perry."

He was alluding to an incident last year in which a black Maryland legislator leveled a discrimination complaint against the owners of a bar in Perry, a rural community near Tallahassee, after he said he was denied a drink in the front part of the bar where white patrons were sitting.

Four months later, the state revoked the bar's liquor license and fined the owners $15,000 as part of a settlement agreement, which stipulated that the money would be used to develop a race relations training and outreach program in Taylor County. Further, the owners were ordered to write letters of apology to the Maryland lawmaker, Talmadge Branch, and to the residents of Perry.

Implementing programs to help communities solve racial problems, Paige said, is an important element in the commission's overall mission. …