JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville is mourning the death of a First Coast political icon.
E. Denise Lee represented Northeast Florida on the Jacksonville City Council and in the Florida House of Representatives for more than 20 years.
In 1989, Lee and the councils two other Black members left a meeting in progress to protest racial discrimination. Then-Council president Tillie Fowler, later a US Congresswoman, had them arrested and returned to the meeting in handcuffs.
Most recently, Lee served on former Mayor Lenny Curry’s anti-blight committee. Her cause of death was not immediately known.
In a statement Tuesday night, Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan said, "Lee embodied what it means to be a public servant. She was a relentless fighter for what was best for the City. The positive legacy of her work can be felt throughout all of Jacksonville. Our City family is lifting prayers to her loved ones. May they find peace of heart and mind in the days to come."
Jacksonville City Council President Ron Salem also issued the following statement on Lee's passing:
"I am saddened to hear about the loss of former Council Member and Representative Denise Lee. I've known Denise Lee for many years and her tenacity as a fighter for District 8 was beyond measure. She had an unmatched auditory ability to get her districts needs met and those of us watching her were in awe of all she was able to accomplish. As Council President, I often visited Denise. Her counsel was invaluable to me as we discussed the issues of the day and her fearless leadership will be truly missed. On behalf of the Jacksonville City Council and all citizens of Jacksonville, we extend our condolences to her family."