Historic City News readers are invited to join members of Dr. Robert B. Hayling’s family and city officials on Saturday, September 24th at 10:30 a.m. for the official opening of the city park that bears the late Civil Rights leader’s name. Hayling died in 2015.
The nearly nine acre park, once known as Riberia Point, enjoys a panoramic view of the San Sebastian and Matanzas Rivers. Mayor Nancy Shaver, who was a founding member of the citizen group “Keep Riberia Point Green”, said she is pleased to participate in the dedication ceremonies and that “Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park” will undoubtedly become a favorite place for reflection, recreation and relaxation for the St. Augustine community.
Dr. Hayling’s leadership in the cause of civil rights in St. Augustine has been recognized in many ways on a state level, including being a recipient of Florida A & M University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Florida Memorial University’s Nathan W. Collier Meritorious Service Award, and being the namesake of the Dr. Robert B. Hayling Award of Valor, created by former Florida Senator Tony Hill.
Locally, the city has recognized Hayling by naming the street where he once lived during the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960’s “Dr. Robert B. Hayling Place”, and by awarding him both of the city’s highest honors; the de Aviles Award in 2011, and the Order of La Florida in 2013. Hayling is the only person to have ever received both awards.
The dedication ceremony coincides with the opening day of the Lincolnville Festival at Eddie Vickers Park, located adjacent to the new park. A special feature of the day will be the participation of the Lincolnville Brass Band, which will march from the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, 102 Martin Luther King Avenue to the dedication ceremony site. The community is invited to join in the procession from the museum, site of the former Excelsior High School, to the new park prior to the start of the ceremony.