BREVARD COUNTY, Florida. – For decades, Dick Blake remained a larger-than-life figure who touched countless lives along the Space Coast through his coaching work and activism in civil rights, education and politics.
Now, the former Rockledge board member is set to be honored during Black History Month with proclamations from Cocoa and Rockledge officials, according to News 6 partner Florida Today. A special honoring the civic leader will also air from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6 on WWBC at 94:7 in Cocoa, 99.9 FM in Titusville and 107.1 in Melbourne. The live stream of the radio simulcast will be broadcast on floridatoday.com.
Blake, whose son Mike Blake is now mayor of Cocoa, was principal of Cocoa High for 23 years and served on the Rockledge City Council from 1976 to 2016.
Blake, one of 10 children and grandsons of freed slaves, was known for his community involvement in everything from youth sports from his time as a coach at Monroe High School and then Black Cocoa High School.
Tall and athletic, Blake played both basketball and football in school in the 1940s. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Claflin University in South Carolina and a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York. York and Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.
He returned to Brevard in 1955 to coach football and teach. Later in 1966, as the nation struggled with school desegregation, Blake was appointed assistant coach of what would become Rockledge High. He became Brevard’s first African-American principal—after desegregation—when he was named principal of Cocoa High School in 1979. He continued to mentor students, teachers, and others before reporting for political office at Rockledge.
The proclamations are the latest in a series of honors for Blake. In 2018, the Brevard County School Board voted unanimously to appoint Cocoa Jr./Sr. High school stadium the Richard Blake stadium.
“What an honor. It reminds me of all the people who have been so important in my life, all the people, the students, who tell me that they have for me the love and respect that I have for them”, has said Blake, a native of Cocoa, FL. TODAY at the time.