Journey: How Lincolnville Helpd Create a Movement

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During Black History Month we are exploring the Journey 450-years of the African-American experience.

We’re taking a look at how a town built by freed slaves helped create a movement for equal rights across the country.

Built in the 1870s by newly freed St. Augustine slaves, Lincolnville was the epitome of American middle class family values. But a growing storm of racial hatred and injustice was about to change Lincolnville’s destiny.

By the end of 1963, St. Augustine was rapidly developing national recognition as Florida’s Birmingham.

St. Augustine’s middle class Blacks were pressured to stay out of the fight.

“My father was a teacher and he was told that if he participated in the movement, he’d lose his job,” said Thomas Jackson, Vice President of Fort Mose Historical Society.

There needed to be a new front opened in the fight against segregation. Leading this fight would be former Air Force Lieutenant and Lincolnville dentist, Dr. Robert Hayling.

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. But this was only the beginning…

“The scariest night was when the Klans and the others were down in the Slave Market. They had brought in a truck load of rocks and put it in the Slave Market so they would have to throw at us,” said Barbara Vickers.

Outrage overcame fear and Lincolnville remained silent no more.

“The people at Howard Johnsons, the cooks, and the people who cleaned the rooms. They stood up for the people in this particular struggle. They said “you know what if I lose my job, I’d rather lose my job than go for another day where somebody I know can be bricked or stoned,” said James Bullock, historian.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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