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McRae among honorees at UF integration commemoration

A bow to Jo McRae, one of several people saluted Feb. 7 at University of Florida festivities commemorating 50 years of integration.

Johncyna Williams, as the Bradenton native and Lincoln High grad was known then, was among a host of barrier-breaking African-American UF grads honored at the gala celebration.

Jo was the first African-American undergraduate to earn a degree from the College of Education in 1966.

The significance of the event crystalized for her when the Black Student Union leadership opened the program with a ceremony, “We Speak Your Names.”

“It didn’t hit me until I was looking at them and the other honorees,” Jo said.

“When they began reading our names, I was like, ‘Did you ever think this would happen?’ I guess it was a blessing to be naive then.”

According to the Florida Alligator from Oct. 7, 1962, Jo and her roommate Rose Green from Daytona were UF’s first black coeds.

“I remember looking around back then, thinking, ‘Where are the other black students?’ ” Jo said.

“We were it.”

n The Manatee High School JV cheerleaders took second in their six-team division at the recent Florida State Fair.

Their 2-1/2 minute routine included high energy dance, tumbling, cheer and stunting. Cecily Broach is the coach. Satellite Beach won.

n Bradenton’s Frank Zaremba, a Cleveland Institute of Art senior, took second and won $1,800 in the International Student Design Competition sponsored by the International Housewares Association, for his design of “EB01 Emrgnts Blanket.”

The blanket is designed for use by emergency responders to assess and increase an individual’s sense of well-being during an acute traumatic event.

Zaremba will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Chicago on March 22-24 to attend the International Housewares Show, where his product will be on display for 60,000 attendees from 100 countries.

n Check out Saturday’s Bradenton Beer Festival Florida Fundraiser, 4 to 8 p.m. on Old Main Street.

Call Jim “Cork” Miller at 812-3850.

Vin’s People, by local columnist Vin Mannix, runs Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Have a column item? A photo you want to share? Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or email him at Please include a phone number for verification.