State to expunge records of civil rights activists

SPECIAL OFFER FOR HISTORIC CITY NEWS READERS

Gwendolyn Duncan wrote to tell Historic City News that St. Augustine resident Barbara B. Allen will be traveling to Tallahassee on December 9th to hear a Commemorative Resolution being read by the Florida State Clemency Board.

On Saturday, March 28th, 1964 Allen was arrested along with Rev. David Robinson, Yale University Chaplin and 24 other Blacks and New England College students for trying to integrate the St. George Street Pharmacy, the Monson Motor Lodge, and McCartney’s Drug Store Lunch Counters.

On Thursday, for many that were arrested and jailed in St. Johns County, their records will be expunged and fees waived. Through the efforts of Florida State Senator Tony Hill and others, the arrest records of those arrested and/or incarcerated during the 1963 – 1964 Civil Rights Movement in St. Augustine will be taken out of the Criminal Division and placed in the State Archives for historic review and research.

Allen, the only black female in the second group which twice tried to integrate the St. George Street Pharmacy, was charged with being an undesirable guest, trespassing, and conspiracy to overthrow the American Government.

Serious charges for someone who only wanted, as she says, “a cup of coffee, just like me”.

Allen is a St. Augustine native, living in New York at the time and came down at the request of Dr. Hayling to help with the movement, but found herself sitting in the St. Johns County Jail for a few weeks. That arrest and incarceration prevented her from getting student loans to attend college, employment, and many dollars to have her records expunged.

An apology will be made to all those who were mistreated during that time in the St. Johns County Jail, in their Non- Violent Fight and Flight to Freedom and equality under the Constitution of the United States of America.

Dr. Marvin Davies, an attorney, of whom the Florida Legislature named the Dr. Marvin Davies Florida Civil Rights Act who coined the term “The Father of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” was speaking of Dr. Robert B. Hayling. Hayling was a United States Air Force First Lieutenant, who after serving his country, attended Meharry Dental College and received his Doctorate in Dental Science.

Hayling opened his practice in St. Augustine and had black and white patients. Hayling gave up the comforts of a striving practice, in the Nation’s Oldest City, risked his very life, and the lives of his family, to help the less fortunate gain the right to sit down at a lunch counter, use the bathroom during their travels, or lay their head on a nice soft pillow in a bed at any motel or hotel without being beaten, spat upon, cow prodded, hit with a brick, a bat, arrested, fingerprinted, jailed, put in a sweat box, or hung on a tree.

Hayling will be in Tallahassee witnessing history being made. He said, “I’m overjoyed”.

The 40th ACCORD will provide a van to take those interested in attending the reading of the Commemorative Resolution by the Florida State Clemency Board. Anyone interested in attending may Duncan via email at: gwen062856@aol.com

Joining the St. Augustine group in Tallahassee will be a resident of Sarasota, FL who as a student at Florida Memorial College, in 1964, was arrested and jailed, in St. Johns County for 40 days for trying to integrate local restaurants. The President and local chapter of the NAACP of Sarasota will sponsor this Freedom Fighter’s trip to the Capitol. Another former student of Florida Memorial College and her son who is an attorney, from Middleburg, FL, Maude Burroughs Jackson will be on hand to witness this historic event as well.

Daytona Beach Resident, and Former State Attorney Dan R. Warren, author of, If It Takes All Summer Martin Luther King, Jr., the KKK, and States Rights in St. Augustine, 1964 said, “Wonderful News! A Long time in coming…perhaps it will help right a wrong and bring a small measure of justice to a dark chapter in the nation’s and Florida’s history”.

David Nolan, local historian of the ancient city said, “…let me add my voice …The civil rights movement, led by Dr. Robert B. Hayling and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the most important event in St. Augustine’s modern history…Even the youngest …are now starting to qualify for Social Security and Medicare, and Mrs. Rena Ayers—one of the legendary “Housemothers” of the civil rights movement—recently celebrated her 106th birthday…no time to waste in righting this wrong from our past…heroes paid a heavy price in later decades every time they sought a job and were turned down because they had been to jail…future will honor those who take this step…move the “criminal” records out of the legal system and into the historic archives where they belong. That way the sacrifices and struggles will not be forgotten…their record can no longer be used to harm those gallant foot soldiers that helped shape our modern democracy”.

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