BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT: City of Cocoa Names Richard ‘Dick’ Blake as Hero of the Month

By  //  February 23, 2020

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Blake was grandson of freed slaves, first African American principal in Brevard County

The City of Cocoa names Richard “Dick” Blake as their Black History hero of the month. This long-time Cocoa educator grew up in Cocoa as one of 10 children. The grandson of freed slaves and life-long resident of Rockledge, Blake was the seventh of 10 children in his family, eight of whom eventually earned college degrees. (City of Cocoa image)

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – The City of Cocoa names Richard “Dick” Blake as their Black History Hero of the Month.

The grandson of freed slaves and life-long resident of Rockledge, Blake was the seventh of 10 children in his family, eight of whom eventually earned college degrees.

Attending Cocoa’s black Monroe High School, Blake starred in football as a wide receiver, in baseball as a first baseman and basketball as a 6-foot-5 forward-center.

Though his father had little formal schooling, only completing the sixth grade, his father got his degree from the “university of life.”

Blake followed in his father’s footsteps in his thirst for knowledge taking him to Claflin College, Florida A&M and Columbia University.

Coaching at Monroe for 11 years, Dick Blake was asked in 1966 to help pave the way for integration in Brevard County by becoming the new assistant principal at Cocoa High School, at what is now Rockledge High School. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com Sports)
Coaching at Monroe for 11 years, Dick Blake was asked in 1966 to help pave the way for integration in Brevard County by becoming the new assistant principal at Cocoa High School, at what is now Rockledge High School. (Image for Space Coast Daily)

When he came back to Cocoa, he returned to Monroe High School, the then black high school in Cocoa, to coach basketball and led the team to three back-to-back state championships.

Later, he became the first African American principal in Brevard County at Cocoa High School.

Blake was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

In October of 2018, the Cocoa High School stadium was renamed to honor the 23 years he served the school and his life-long commitment to the Cocoa community.

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Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame’s Dick Blake Is Pioneer Athlete, Coach, Administrator

ABOVE VIDEO: Dick Blake also got to know many of the black pioneers of integration in baseball who spent spring training in Florida. Players such as Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, Maury Wills, Junior Gilliam, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays came to call Blake a trusted friend.

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