TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Warren Dawson as the 42nd Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of Game 1 versus the New Jersey Devils. Dawson, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will benefit the students at Warren Hope Dawson Elementary School.
A graduate of Florida A&M University, Dawson served as an active duty officer in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1963 and then received his law degree from Howard University in 1966. At that time, Warren began his legal practice in civil rights and labor litigation. His storied career has spanned more than 50 years, but perhaps most notable was his effort to end segregation in Hillsborough County Public Schools.
In 1974, Dawson began the legal crusade in federal court to de-segregate Hillsborough County Public Schools. He served as the lead counsel for the plaintiffs and was responsible for overseeing and enforcing the desegregation order handed down by the federal courts. This legal battle ended up spanning 27 years, and Warren worked in an unpaid capacity for 24 of those years. However, Warren was determined to keep fighting until children of all races had an equal opportunity to receive a quality education. In recognition of all his efforts, the school system honored him by naming their newest elementary school in Riverview after him.
Warren Dawson becomes the 314th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $15.8 million to more than 400 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2016, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.