Senator Arthenia L. Joyner is a dynamic individual whose personal life reads like a chronicle of the struggle for equal justice. She has not just lived history, she made it. Senator Joyner is Of Counsel at Swope, Rodante P.A. in Tampa, FL, practicing in the area of personal injury. Born in Lakeland FL and reared in Tampa, she grew up in a time of segregation and has always been determined to end it. Senator Joyner began her long march for equality as a high school student in Tampa protesting for change as a participant in the Woolworth lunch counter demonstrations. That journey took her to jail cells in Tallahassee during her undergraduate years at Florida A&M University when she was twice arrested for demonstrating against segregation and spent 14 days in the Leon County, FL jail. When president of the National Bar Association, she was arrested for protesting apartheid outside of the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1985.
Joyner entered politics in the early ‘70s when she chaired in Tampa the Shirley Chisholm’s presidential campaign, Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns, and co-coordinator of Lawton Chiles’ 1990 gubernatorial campaign, and Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.
A graduate of Florida A&M University College of Law, she was Florida’s fifth Black female lawyer, the first Black female lawyer in Hillsborough County, the first Black lawyer in Polk County, the first Black female lawyer to serve on the board of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, the first Black attorney appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the first Black female appointed to the Board of Directors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first Black female State Representative and State Senator elected from Tampa, the first Black female Minority Leader in the Florida Senate. Senator Joyner has practiced law for fifty-three (53) years – longer than any Black woman in the history of Florida.
Her most prestigious appointments came from President Clinton, including the U.S. Delegation to the International Population Development Conference in Cairo, Egypt (1994) and the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China (1995). She is widely recognized for her leadership on women’s and human rights issues and her relentless passion for justice, truth, and equal rights. The Board of County Commissioners and the Tampa-Hillsborough Library Board in 2018 celebrated her many contributions to Florida and the community by naming its new $9.3 million library in her honor.