Remembering a pioneer in the African American community; “Stephan had a lot of firsts”

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Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 11:40 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The name Judge Stephan P. Mickle is associated with many firsts for the African American community. First to receive an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida. First to practice law in the history of Alachua County since Reconstruction. First county judge in Alachua County. First circuit court judge in the Eighth Judicial Circuit. First to serve on the First District Court of Appeals. First judge in the Northern District of Florida.

“Stephan had a lot of firsts,” said his mother, Catherine Mickle.

She said the road to success began in junior high school when she and her husband asked him the career path he wanted to pursue.

“Dad, he says, ‘I think I’m going to be a lawyer.’ My husband looked at him and said, No, I don’t think so, Stephan, not a lawyer because you don’t talk enough.’”

He showed them he could be a lawyer, a judge, and possibly one step away from being a Supreme Court Justice. This mother recalls her son’s tough time at the University of Florida as an undergraduate student, but she said he persevered.

“He is an example.”

Mickle said her son helped open up doors for African American students. When they see his portrait hanging in the courtyard of the Levin College of Law, she hopes they take away this, “if Judge Mickel could do it, we can do it.”

Third-year law student Ebony Love said Judge Mickle played an important part in allowing her to attend UF as an undergraduate student and law student.

“I do think that God blessed us with the perfect person, the perfect vessel to carry this legacy and to start this line. Had it not been for him, we would not be law students. We would not be graduating from the University of Florida.”

According to Love, the late judge always had a nice word to say about people.

“I think that Judge Mickle’s legacy is one of excellence. So excellence is the standard and to also make sure that we are always paying it forward.”

Jude Mickle’s mother said her son was always very humble about his accomplishments.

“He would always let people see the good in him and what he achieved.”

His legacy will live at the University of Florida and in the North-Central Florida community.

“We are so proud of him, very proud of him. He was a good husband, good father, and good neighbor.”

He passed away last month at the age of 76 from cancer.

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