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African American Icon 2016: Doby Flowers

Doby Flowers
Posted at 10:17 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 18:11:25-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - "A true trailblazer for all minorities and students-at-large", that's how Phil Barco, the Chairman of several Seminole Royalty Reunions, describes Miss Doby Flowers. In 1970, she became the first black homecoming queen at FSU. But don't call it a beauty pageant...to Doby, it was much more than that.

"It wasn't a beauty contest," explains Flowers. "We sat back and said, 'we broke the barrier to education with the first black student, we broke the barrier to athletics with Fred being the first black athlete in Southern majority university, but for social moree, which the homecoming queen was the epitome of and recognition of beauty'. So it wasn't about looking pretty, it was a political statement, saying we've got to break this last bastion."

By 1970, there had never been a black homecoming queen at FSU and Doby wanted to change that.

"I was one of those hippy types," recalls Flowers, "and so the Black Student Union said, 'okay Doby, you've gotta put on some clothes', cause I was the cut-off girl with the plats and stuff."

Doby campaigned for the crown...and won!

"What it was like was a triumph for students," says Flowers. "It was a triumph, not only for black students, it was a triumph for students who stood and said, this has got to change, it's ridiculous what we've been doing. There's no way with 35 black students out of 18,000 I would have won by popular vote just by black students."

It was a turning point for the University, and motivation for Doby. She went on to a very successful career, eventually returning to her roots, and opening up a bed and business in Thomasville. The seventh generation Tallahassean credits her family for her hard work ethic.

"I think what was expected was working hard, not being a business person, but being an achiever and with an ethics and value system that you know you could achieve, regardless of segregation and all of that," Flowers says. "We never thought that we could not be somebody, because we all came from somebody."

And with that, we crown Miss Doby Flowers an African American Icon.

Doby Flowers opened up The Magnolia Leaf bed and business in Thomasville. It is currently closed for renovation, but the historic greek-revival home will soon reopen for business. For more information, visit www.TheMagnoliaLeaf.com.

Video coming soon. Check back with www.wtxl.tv.