Public viewing for Veronica Shoemaker taking place at Fort Myers church

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- Flags around the state are at half-staff to honor Fort Myers civil rights leader Veronica Shoemaker.

Shoemaker passed away last week at the age of 86. She was the first African-American city council member in Fort Myers history, and served on the council for 24 years.

Friends and family are coming together for a public viewing on Friday from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. at the Mt. Olive AME Church in Fort Myers.

Shoemaker was a major pioneer during the civil rights movement in Fort Myers. She served as president of the local NAACP and played a key role in desegregating Lee County schools.

Shoemaker also had a major role in bringing the City of Palms Park and Boston Red Sox spring training to Fort Myers, the Imaginarium to Dunbar, and the Harborside Event Center to downtown.

Up to a thousand people are expected to attend Shoemaker’s funeral at Harborside Event Center on Saturday at noon.

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