Hayling Inducted Into Civil Rights Hall Of Fame


TALLAHASSEE-- Fifty years ago this month, the eyes of the nation were on the civil rights movement in the southern states.

Most people remember the violence in Alabama and Mississippi. Demonstrations in St. Augustine helped give momentum to the civil rights act.

"In the early spring of 1964, local Negroes began civil rights demonstrations."

This 1964 video was a training video for state troopers, but it's also an account of mounting racial tensions in St. Augustine.

"Some 20 persons were injured including a trooper shot by a pellet gun"

The man behind these demonstrations is one of the latest inductees into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

"Dr. Hayling actively embraced the growing cause of civil rights."

Now 85, Dr. Robert Hayling says 50 years later, much still remains to be done.

"Some improvement. Some."
"Not near enough?"
"No."

"The group of whites attacked about 75 integrationists during the wade-in demonstration."

Hayling credits beach demonstrations for opening the white sandy beaches to people of color.

"It gave us a portion of our civil rights for the usage of the beaches, which were public facilities," Dr. Hayling said.

"A Danish cameraman taking motion pictures of the violence was beaten by a shirtless white youth."

Because the nation was watching, television cameramen were often the targets of white demonstrators.

With the nation watching and the Senate unsure of what to do with Civil Rights, the nightly pictures of demonstrators and violence in St. Augustine tipped the balance.

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 finally went to the president, demonstrations were suspended. Despite the honors, Robert Hayling says demonstrators still haven't gotten what they wanted when demonstrations began, which was a bi-racial commission to solve problems.


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