Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dr. Robert Hayling, Florida civil rights leader, dies at 86

Dr. Robert B. Hayling, part of the St. Augustine Four rights group, died Sunday at age 86.

Dr. Robert B. Hayling, part of the St. Augustine Four rights group, died Sunday at age 86.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Dr. Robert B. Hayling, a dentist and influential civil rights activist in Florida during the 1960s, has died. He was 86.

Hayling died Sunday at home in Fort Lauderdale, his sister, Yvonne Hayling-Clarke, told the Associated Press. No cause of death has been determined.

A member of a group known as "The St. Augustine Four," Hayling spent six months in a Florida jail and reform school in 1964 after he and three other members of the NAACP Youth Council asked to be served at a Woolworth's lunch counter.

They were released only after protests by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson and others popularized their predicament, according to the ACCORD Civil Rights Museum.

"He motivated us. He made us feel like we were doing something right, and he backed us up a hundred percent in that," Audrey Nell Edwards, one of the St. Augustine Four, said in a museum news release.

Hayling also got the attention of Vice President Lyndon Johnson in 1963. Hayling protested St. Augustine's plan to celebrate its 400th anniversary and status as the oldest city in the United States with an all-white event.

Hayling's objection opened the event and resulted in two tables being set aside for black people, according to the museum.

"Robert was a wonderful person because he loved to give," Hayling-Clarke said from her home in Sarasota. "He was always giving someone something, looking out and doing the best for everybody."

Hayling's deeds also stoked anger in the community. He was beaten at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1963, and shots were fired at his home in 1964, killing his dog.

The events in St. Augustine are cited alongside other influential moments in the civil rights movement as key moments that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Today, Hayling's house is a stop on the Freedom Trail civil rights tour of important historical landmarks in the city, along with his old dental office, which today is a civil rights museum.

A public service is being arranged in St. Augustine in January, Hayling-Clarke said.

Dr. Robert Hayling, Florida civil rights leader, dies at 86 12/24/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 24, 2015 8:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police seek suspect who critically wounded Pinellas Park bicyclist

    Crime

    PINELLAS PARK — A Pinellas Park man was critically injured Monday night after he was shot while riding his bicycle.

  2. Pasco considers new tax districts for parks, libraries, public safety

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Faced with growing costs amid an expected voter-endorsed tax cut, Pasco County is considering changing the way it pays for parks, libraries and public safety.

    
Pasco County is considering a new taxing district to finance an expansion and ongoing operations of the county's Department of Parks,Recreaton and Natural Resources. Shown is the Dick's Tournament of Champions at the the  Wesley Chapel District Park, the last district park developed by the county. It opened in 2007.
  3. Ruskin man sought in fatal stabbing of roommate

    Crime

    RUSKIN — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has issued an arrest warrant for the suspect who fatally stabbed his roommate in a Ruskin home on Monday afternoon.

    Angel Calix, shown during a June 2016 arrest, is wanted in the fatal stabbing of a Ruskin man on Oct. 23, 2017. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Romano: Why flood insurance might not be enough to save your home

    Local Government

    Irma is gone, and Maria never came.

    And yet this is as good a time as any to worry.

  5. Tampa's streetcar system looks to expand north through downtown

    Transportation

    TAMPA — The TECO Line Streetcar system that runs from Ybor City to the Channel District could be extended north through downtown all the way to Tampa Heights, according to the latest update of a $1.7 million study aimed at expanding the streetcar system.

    Riders take in the last few stops of the streetcar route in Ybor City during the tenth anniversary celebration of the TECO line streetcar system in Tampa in 2012. Now officials are looking for ways to expand the service north through downtown to Tampa Heights. [EVE EDELHEIT  |  Times]