Clio Logo
This park was named after Florida Senator Lori Wilson. Born in Waynesville, North Carolina, she moved to Florida in 1960. She served from 1973-1978 and was the third woman and first Independent to hold the position. She was also a major supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment being ratified in Florida, which the Senate ended up voting against. Senator Wilson was also a supporter of several environmental organizations, including the National Association of County Officials Environmental Steering Committee, the Central Florida Zoological Society, and Save Our Waterways, and supported legislation that protected the environment.

Lori Wilson Park Boardwalk

Sky, Plant, Property, Azure

Lori Wilson

Photograph, Musical instrument, Microphone, Jaw

Lori Wilson Park

Sky, Plant, Natural environment, Tree

Lori Wilson Dog Park

Cloud, Sky, Plant, Ecoregion

Senator Lori Wilson Wipes a Tear From Her Eye Following the Defeat of the ERA in the Senate - Tallahassee, Florida

Lip, Hand, Hairstyle, Arm

Lori Wilson Park is located on Cocoa Beach, where its namesake also resided. Even before becoming a Florida Senator, Lori Wilson was a very accomplished woman, attending Tennessee Tech, Rollins College, and Brevard Community College and being an honors student. She belonged to and led several organizations, including, but not limited to: director of the University of Florida Foundation; League of Women Voters; honorary director of Central Florida Zoological Society; Save Our Waterways.

During her term as Senator, Florida legislation encountered the Equal Rights Amendment, which would guarantee equality regardless of sex under the United States Constitution. Senator Wilson supported the Amendment, making her stand out as she was the only woman in her legislative body. Florida was an important state for the movement, so when it was lost, it deeply upset its supporters. The loss even caused the Senator to shed a few tears.

Voss, Kimberly Wilmot. “The Florida Fight for Equality: The Equal Rights Amendment, Senator Lori Wilson and Mediated Catfights in the 1970s.” The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 88, no. 2, 2009, pp. 173–208. JSTOR,  

This source is about how important Florida was to the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. Lori Wilson’s relevance to the issue was that she was the senator who sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1974, bringing attention to herself and the Amendment. The media focused more on her fashion and appearance than they did the legislation she was supporting. The complex battle for the ERA to be ratified was belittled by the media, who depicted the women for and against the ERA as engaging in “catfights”. Published in an academic journal, this source reflects how women were not taken seriously even when the media paid attention to them regarding an important issue, a problem that continues even to this day. This source was found in the Florida Historical Quarterly and should be deemed reliable because it gives insight into the character of Lori Wilson. 

Brantley, Lew. The Florida Senate 1976-1978. 

This source details accomplishments from Lori Wilson’s professional life, including her schooling, what organizations she belonged to, what positions in government she had upheld, and what awards she had won. The Senate Handbook reflects how Lori Wilson was a very accomplished politician, not only for a woman in the seventies but as a person in general, investing herself into causes like space and mental health. This source was found on the Florida Senate’s webpage and is reliable because it officially comes from the Senate itself and has important information about Lori Wilson as a Senator. 

United States, Congress, Senate, JOURNAL OF THE FLORIDA SENATE, Senate Journals / 1970's / 1974 Senate Bound Journal / Volume I / 1974 Regular Session, p. 267, 

This source is about Lori Wilson’s participation in the Florida Senate on Thursday, April 25, 1974, where she comments her concerns about a bill relating to who would be liable in the cleanup of pollution discharge, like oil, on page 267. She voices said concern by commenting “...Florida must take into consideration...its coastal waters are a source of revenue from sports and commercial fishing... I am not surprised that the oil shippers readily agree to a tax to be placed in a clean-up fund. We have all already seen how these taxes have a way of being passed on to the consumer”. Based on this quote and knowledge of her involvement with environmental organizations like the National Association of County Officials Environmental Steering Committee, the Central Florida Zoological Society, and Save Our Waterways, Senator Wilson’s belief in oil companies assuming responsibility for their spills is not a surprising one. This source was found on the Florida Senate’s Website and is reliable because it comes from the Florida Senate’s government website.  

Lafferty, Michael. “3 HOPEFULS FACE OFF FOR STATE SENATE DISTRICT 17 SEAT.”, The Orlando Sentinel, 9 Oct. 2018, 

This source is about Senator Lori Wilson’s run in the 1988 GOP primary for the District 17 Florida Senate seat. It details some of her previous accomplishments, including “banning public pay toilets in Florida...[supporting] full rights for 18-year-olds, and handicapped access to public buildings”. Wilson also recognized the importance of limited resources, stating “The greatest challenge facing Florida is finding a long-range source of drinking water”, no doubt influenced by her environmentalist beliefs. This source is found on the Orlando Sentinel website and is reliable because it comes from an official newspaper organization and it gives a glimpse of Lori Wilson’s political career after being a Florida Senator, including switching from Independent to Republican in her affiliation. 

Brock, Laura E. “Religion and Women's Rights in Florida: An Examination of the Equal Rights Amendment Legislative Debates, 1972-1982.” The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 94, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1–39., Accessed 15 Apr. 2021. 

This source has additional information about Senator Lori Wilson’s involvement with the Equal Rights Amendment, documenting her and her peers’ defense of the ERA, as well as religion’s involvement in shaping views on the ERA. Organizations like the League of Women Voters and Business & Professional Women were so pro-ERA that they created and funded “ERA-74”; Lori Wilson was also a member of both organizations. Religious people were both supporters and adversaries of the ERA, leading to an interesting divide that used Christianity to both praise and condemn the amendment. Senator Wilson herself utilized religion to give the ERA moral implications. According to this source, Senator Wilson was a “tireless advocate” of the ERA, sponsored the amendment, and gave charismatic and passionate speeches about the equality it would bring, making its defeat and her crestfallen reaction all the more touching. This source is found in The Florida Historical Quarterly and is reliable because it is published in an academic journal. 

Image Sources(Click to expand)