The purpose of the Dr. Edna L. Saffy Library Scholarship, value $500, is to provide support for a student with an academic interest in women’s history. Preference will be given to students with an interest in (ascending order of priority) American Women’s History, Florida Women’s History, Jacksonville Women’s History, and/or Dr. Edna Saffy’s contribution to Women’s History.
Dr. Edna L. Saffy was a professor, human rights activist and founder of NOW chapters in Jacksonville and Gainesville. She was active in city, county, state and national political causes. As Gloria Steinem said of her, 'Edna always makes it happen.'" Dr. Saffy was a member of the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee for 35 years. In 1975, Dr. Saffy was a key organizer of a march on the state capitol in Tallahassee in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, leading a group of women estimated at 3,000. The amendment passed in the state House in both 1975 and 1977, but it failed by a few votes in the state Senate and never gained approval in enough state legislatures to become part of the Constitution. Although the struggle for the ERA was unsuccessful, Dr. Saffy felt that it was a battle worth fighting, one that helped change hearts and minds and open up opportunities for women.
The Jacksonville native graduated from Lee High School before heading to the University of Florida where she earned her bachelor's degree and master's degree in rhetoric and public address. In 1968 she went to work as an English and speech instructor at what is now Florida State College at Jacksonville. She taught speech and oral communication at the college until she retired at the end of 2007 and was named professor emeritus. Dr. Saffy returned to Gainesville in 1972 to work on her doctorate and founded a NOW chapter there, two years after she and some friends had founded the Jacksonville chapter.
Dr. Saffy was recognized for her human rights efforts by being named "a woman of courage and vision" in 2001 by the Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women during Women's History Month. In 2005, Dr. Saffy was presented with the EVE Lifetime Achievement Award. Her public service included mayoral appointments to the Duval County Hospital Authority, Jacksonville Human Rights Commission, advisory committee on LaVilla Cultural Heritage District and the Jacksonville Area Planning Board. She was active with numerous groups including Planned Parenthood, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society, Hubbard House, Karpeles Manuscript Museum and the American Association of University Women. Dr. Saffy also served as president of the Florida Women's Political Caucus and founder of the Jacksonville Women's Network. Nationally Edna Saffy was active in Mideast peace groups and a member of the American Arab Institute, she was invited by President Clinton to witness the signing of the Mid-East Peace Accord in 1993. She also was appointed by President Clinton to the Advisory Committee on the Arts of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in 1995-2001, and by President Gerald Ford in 1976 as a Florida delegate to the International Women's Conference. She was a Florida State delegate to Democratic National Conventions in 1976, 1980, 1984, 1992, 1996 and 2000.
After her death in 2010 Edna Saffy’s husband of 41 years, Grady E. Johnson Jr. established the fund for a scholarship in her name. The first scholarship will be awarded in 2017. The UNF Thomas G. Carpenter Library houses the archives of Dr. Saffy’s papers and memorabilia.