Today, Historic City News readers mark 50-years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act at a special commemoration ceremony in the Plaza de la Constitution; once the scene of racial unrest and national media attention on the dehumanizing effects of segregation on black families across the United States.
Dr. Robert B. Hayling, a retired First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force, former resident, local dentist, and leader of the 1960′s Civil Rights Movement in St. Augustine was presented with the de Aviles Award in 2011, one of the City’s highest honors. One year ago today, July 2, 2013, the city’s highest honor, induction into the Order of la Florida, was conferred on him by members of the city commission. Today, Dr. Hayling returned to St Augustine to place a wreath on the Foot Soldiers Monument.
Vice-Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline and Superintendent of the St Johns County School District, Dr. Joseph Joyner, joined Dr. Hayling, Civil Rights activist Barbara Vickers, historian David Nolan, and others crowded at the monument which sits at the opposite corner of Andrew Young Crossing.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, that included remarks delivered by Hayling, the moment in history was memorialized with the ringing of church bells that echoed throughout the plaza.
Photo credits: © 2014 Historic City News contributed photograph by Nancy Sikes-Kline