PodcastED: SUFS president Doug Tuthill interviews civil rights icon H.K. Matthews

redefinED staff

In this episode, Tuthill speaks with the Rev. Hawthorne Konrad (H.K.) Matthews, who was active during the civil rights movement in the Pensacola area and was arrested 35 times for his political activities. Leader of both the local NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Matthews was savagely beaten along with Congressman John Lewis, who died last week at the age of 80, and hundreds of others on March 7, 1965, on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

“Lewis suffered a fractured skull,” Matthews remembered in an interview last week with the Sinclair Broadcast Group. “I was in the middle of the group, thank God. I only received secondary blows.”

Rev. Matthews discusses his relationship with Lewis and the leadership void he fears will ensue with Lewis’ death. He also discusses his time as an outspoken advocate for education choice and as founder of “freedom schools” across northern Florida and the southern United States, an experience that caused him to see the education choice movement as the natural extension of the Civil Rights era.

“I always knew we needed to have freedom of choice, which is why marched and did a lot of things … If you have a choice, the results of that choice belong to you. You have ownership of it.”


  • John Lewis as Rev. Matthews knew him
  • Reflections on being “indiscriminately beaten” in Selma on Bloody Sunday
  • Riots at Escambia High School when protesting the school’s Confederate symbols
  • Why he is optimistic about the future of education choice during the COVID-19 pandemic


RedefinED: Back to the future on a school choice odyssey


You may also like