Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Strength in St. Augustine | Film Tells Story of Florida City's Role in Civil Rights Movement

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Strength in St. Augustine | Film Tells Story of Florida City's Role in Civil Rights Movement

Article excerpt

HISTORY

Days after Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, a Sarasota event highlighted a lesser-known civil rights story from Florida -- with some of its participants in the audience.

The film "Passage at St. Augustine" screened Saturday at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee's Selby Auditorium. The documentary tells the story of the St. Augustine civil rights movement, led by local dentist Dr. Robert B. Hayling and bringing figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. to the city as it grew violent even by the standards of the civil rights era.

The Sarasota alumni chapter of Hayling's alma mater Florida A&M University hosted the benefit screening along with Hayling's sister Yvonne Hayling Clarke and her husband Garvey Clarke, who live in Sarasota.

Director Clennon L. King also attended and hosted a Q&A after the film. King said he got in touch with Hayling Clarke when she saw a screening in St. Petersburg.

"She was like: 'This is amazing, I had thought everyone had forgotten about my brother,'" King said.

The movement started in 1963 when then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson visited for a 400th

anniversary celebration of St. Augustine that excluded black residents.

Hayling protested, kicking off a struggle that lasted through the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Anti-segregation demonstrators got arrested in large numbers, had their houses shot at and were attacked in pools and at beaches.

Saturday's event drew more than 200 people, including numerous foot soldiers in the St. Augustine civil rights movement.

Mimi Jones, who lives in Boston, came to see the screening while visiting friends in Sarasota. She is interviewed in the film and was the woman in a widely publicized photograph of a St. Augustine hotel manager pouring acid into the building's pool to deter protesters holding a swim-in.

Hailing from Albany, Georgia, she had already participated in civil rights movements before coming to St. Augustine. Part of the reason she was asked to join was because she could swim.

Besides the violence, Jones said, what stood out about St. Augustine civil rights movement was the wide-ranging amount of demonstrators it drew. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.