Letter: Calls out Neville over his accounting of Black soldiers

In a letter obtained by Historic City News today, an African-American documentary filmmaker, author, historian, and Leadership St Johns graduate, wrote to St Augustine City Commissioner Todd Neville; calling him out over his accounting of local Black soldiers during the Civil War.  At issue is Neville’s tacit support for removal of the confederate memorial that stands in the Plaza de la Constitution.


Derek Boyd Hankerson
Producer and Director

Beatrice-Boyd Productions

November 22, 2017

Commissioner Neville:

Regardless of the outcome of the confederate memorial and other’s opinions, “I don’t sell out my family!”

You recently remarked that you heard from no blacks from St. Augustine with reference to them fighting for the south.

Please see the list below of my relatives who fought and served for their homes, which were in the south.

My family is originally native to Beach Island, South Carolina.  The county (Aiken) was once named after our family.  They are mostly Mulatto — a mixture of black and white families. They were, and have always been, free; excluding the West-African Gullah Geechee relatives in my grandmother’s family.

My dad and other relatives are native to Lincolnville or St. Augustine and were some of the first doctors in town serving blacks and white clients in the 1950’s and 1960’s, even before Dr. Robert Hayling.

My Great aunt owned and lived in a 12-room Victorian home in front of Mrs. Tyson on Bridge Street from 1930-1999.  We sold the house to the City of St Augustine.

Two Black confederate St Augustine natives who fought for the south are buried in San Lorenzo cemetery.

Why insult those that served, regardless of your personal feeling of the war and its cause?  It’s disrespectful to assume blacks were cowards and did not fight.

Have we learned nothing from Fort Mose?  Black men were fighting for freedom and independence 38-years before the American Revolution.  And, that battle led to the American Revolution, the Spanish-American, Mexican-American, French and Indian, War of 1812, Seminole War and Civil War — all battles blacks served in, seeking freedom and independence.

They were never cowards, as your history book may have stated, and most blacks are native to the south.

Please add this to the City Records.


Derek Boyd Hankerson has lobbied the National Park Service on the inclusion of St. Johns County into the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, and has worked on other National Heritage Area projects for Northeast Florida. He also has lobbied the NPS Underground Railroad Network to Freedom project to include St. Johns County because of the county’s contribution to the Underground Railroad. Hankerson is a graduate of Webster University School of Business and Technology with a master degree in management and leadership. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland and completed graduate studies in organizational communications at Bowie State University.

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