1963 was a tumultuous year in our country as the civil rights movement heated up, and nowhere was it hotter than Saint Augustine Florida, a community that was instrumental in the battle for equality.
The year is 1963 and protests have reached a fever pitch on St. Augustine.
There needed to be a new front opened in the fight against segregation, and there was no better place to do Leading this fight would be Lincolnville dentist and successful businessman, Dr. Robert Hayling.
Inspired by the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Hayling organized local youths and began sending them into local whites-only restaurants.
On a hot July day in 1963, 14 year old Samuel White, 15-year old Audry Nell Edwards, 16 year old Willie Carl Singleton and 16 year-old JoeAnn Anderson went up to the Woolworth’s lunch counter and tried to order a hamburger and a coke.
They were arrested and later sentenced to one year in reform school. This harsh sentencing of peaceful children drew local and national outrage putting a new spot light on St. Augustine’s racial unrest.
“St. Augustine, is merely a symbol of an expression… of the tragedies that engulf our whole nation in the area of race relations,” said Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The scariest night was when the klans and the others were down in the slave market. They had brought in a truckload of rocks and put it in the slave market so they would have to throw at us,” said Barbara Vickers.