FORT PIERCE — An initiative four years in the making is looking for its final push.
The Florida Highwaymen will host an event Thursday night to encourage people to purchase its specialty license plate, which needs 3,000 pre-sale vouchers before October before production can begin.
Vouchers can be purchased for $39.95, and representatives from the St. Lucie tax collector's office will be on-site to assist. The event will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Treasure Coast Lexus dealership, 5121 U.S. 1 in Fort Pierce.
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Purchasers will be entered into a drawing to win a Highwaymen painting. The first 25 attendees over the age of 70 will be given a free, pre-paid voucher for a license plate.
"If you're not able to afford the Highwaymen painting, you can definitely have one on your car," said Doretha Hair Truesdell, widow of the original and founding Highwayman Alfred Hair.
Who were The Highwaymen?
The Highwaymen were a group of Black artists that originated in Fort Pierce, known for painting Florida landscapes under the tutelage of A.E. "Bean" Backus. Kept out of white-owned galleries, they sold their artwork along roadsides in the 1960s and ’70s.
Honoring the group's work through a specialty license plate has been an uphill battle in the state Legislature.
Former Rep. Larry Lee Jr., D-Port St. Lucie, filed a bill to create the license plate, but it did not pass the 2018 legislative session. Former Rep. Delores Hogan Johnson, D-Fort Pierce, reintroduced the bill in 2019 after Lee retired, but it died in committee.
Fees collected through the specialty license plate will go toward the construction and operation of a Highwaymen museum in Fort Pierce's Lincoln Park neighborhood, Truesdell said. Funds also will help the St. Lucie Education Foundation pay for art education and other art projects in local public schools.
"It's our heart's desire, after all these years, to have our own museum," Truesdell said. "It would come full circle."
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Florida Highwaymen: Specialty license plate launches Thursday, Dec. 2