Black History Month: Racial Unrest in 1963

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida--The year is 1963 and protests have reached a fever pitch.

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.

A dentist and ex-Army officer, Hayling became the first Negro member of the Florida State Dental Society. He joined the Civil Rights struggle after the dental group was denied meeting facilities at white hotels and restaurants because of his membership.

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 spotlight on St. Augustine`s racial unrest.

"The scariest night was when the klans and the others were down in the slave market," resident Barbara Vickers said. "They had brought in a truckload of rocks and put it in the slave market so they would have (them) to throw at us.

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