WINTER PARK—New signs naming the rail bridge over South Orlando Avenue (U.S. 17-92) will soon be unveiled. The Florida State Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott recently designated the bridge near Winter Park as the "Reverend Kenneth C. Crossman Bridge."
"Reverend Ken Crossman dedicated his life to serving others and building bridges throughout the community to bring people together. I can think of no more fitting tribute to honor his legacy," said U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.
The measure, Senate Bill 368, gives 37 Florida roads, highways and bridges new honorary names, in honor of fallen soldiers, law enforcement officials and community leaders.
"Reverend Crossman lived his faith and understood that America at its best is an exceptional country. He embodied the pre-eminent words of our founding fathers: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Reverend Crossman knew that this declaration was a promissory note for future generations and he was dedicated to making sure that the promise of America's greatness was fulfilled for all its citizens," said U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.
Whether publicly denouncing the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia or marching for the rights of sanitation workers in South Florida, Rev. Crossman spent over three decades as a religious leader and activist.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to support the efforts to recognize the legacy of one of Central Florida's most distinguished citizens. The importance of Reverend Crossman's contributions as a civil rights activist has left a lasting impact on our community, and the dedication tribute of 'Reverend Kenneth C. Crossman Bridge' is much deserved," noted State Senator Randolph Bracy, representing the 11th District.
"Ken Crossman was out front in the battle for civil and equal rights. Those of us who admired him for his stance saw him as a clear beacon on what was right and what was wrong when it came to be treating fellow human beings. As an elected official at the time, it was comforting to have such a visionary to look up to," said Dick Batchelor, longtime friend and former member of the Florida House of Representatives.
An ardent crusader of human rights and civil liberties, his legacy of victories made him an icon among civil-rights revolutionaries in Central Florida.
"The dedication of the Reverend Kenneth C. Crossman bridge could not come at a more poignant time in our history. This tribute to a civil rights leader and 'bridge builder' is a fitting reminder that we all must show compassion for our fellow citizens as we endeavor to pursue happiness and form a more perfect union," noted George LeMieux, former U.S. Senator from Florida, chief of staff for Florida Governor Charlie Crist and chairman of the law firm of Gunster Yoakley and Stewart.
Known as a community "bridge builder," Rev. Crossman devoted his energy and know-how to improving black-white relationships. He was the guiding force behind Rebuild, the interfaith housing program, designed to provide affordable housing in impoverished areas.
"Leaders like Reverend Crossman serve as guiding examples for future generations, and it's so important that we honor important figures in our history like him. I was proud to play a part in memorializing the vital contributions he made in furthering civil rights and human dignity," said State Representative Bob Cortes.
Crossman was also instrumental in guiding a summer program that brought black and white children together in a positive, happy learning environment. He regularly attended city, county and state legislative meetings, encouraging lawmakers to remember the disenfranchised and tackle the problem of institutional racism in our state.
"It's wonderful to see Rev. Crossman honored in this way. He dedicated his life to making our community a better place to work and live. The naming of this bridge is a great symbol of his lifelong work to bridge the gap in civil rights. I'm honored to be a part of the dedication in late September," said Florida Representative Mike Miller.
Crossman has been saluted as an engaged Christian leader and conscience of the community for his special dedication for reaching the young, the poor and disenfranchised and being a dedicated voice for reasoning together.
"Ken Crossman's Personal Faith Walk led him to be an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement. The Reverend Kenneth C. Crossman Bridge will stand as a reminder of Ken's commitment to bridging the gap for equal rights," said former Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty.
"We are grateful to Rep. Miller, Rep. Cortes, Senator Bracy, Governor Scott, and many others who worked so hard to make this happen," said Rev. Crossman's son, John Crossman of Crossman & Company. "Our family is proud to live in a community where our leaders, of all backgrounds and beliefs, believe in bridge building."
A former businessman, the senior Crossman was a pastor for nearly 35 years, including at First United Methodist Church in Winter Park.
There will be a "Celebration of Bridge Building" at 11:15 a.m. on Sept. 26 at FUMC in Winter Park.