Freedom Fighters, Freed From Criminal Record

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL - June 25th, 1964. Civil rights activists marched on St. Augustine Beach in an attempt to shine a light on the injustice of segregation. A news reel stored by the Florida memory project captures the moment. Purcell Conway was there that day. He was 15.

“Besides being beaten and nearly killed trying to integrate a beach, I guess that’s about it. Arrested a number of times,” said Conway.

For two years in St. Augustine, hundreds of freedom fighter were beaten, shot at and arrested during protests and sit-ins. 66 year old Barbara James was poked with a cattle prod. She was 21 at the time.

“I was grown so I knew what I was doing. I knew what I was fighting for. I want better for my kids and my grandkids,” said James.

Thursday at the state capitol, about a dozen of the St. Augustine freedom fighters were honored for their bravery. Governor Charlie Crist and the state Clemency Board ordered the arrest records of the civil rights activists expunged. Barbara is thankful to have a clean record, but she says the fight isn’t over.

“We still not getting treated like we should. It’s not over,” said James.

Many of the freedom fighters arrested during the St. Augustine Riots have died; among them Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King and the other deceased will also have their records cleared. King was arrested and jailed in St. Augustine on June 11th, 1964. 15 Jewish Rabbis traveled to St. Augustine to pray for King. They too were arrested.

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  • by Jessica on Dec 12, 2010 at 06:11 AM
    People are so racist. Oldesouth and deserve to rot. So does every other racist person on the planet. I have a mixed child so I take offense to your ignorance. Steve, good luck finding a job with that sort of mentality. You are both very ignorant.
  • by Mindy on Dec 12, 2010 at 06:00 AM
    I personally believe that they do deserve to have their records clear. Its not like they did anything wrong. If anything they have helped us all (black/white/spanish/asian/etc.) to have a better future. I appreciate them for all of their hard work!!
  • by Anonymous on Dec 12, 2010 at 05:57 AM
    There is ignorance and poverty in every race. This is coming from a white person too. I'm single with one child but I refuse to sit back and live off of the government. I work 40 hours a week and attend a University full time. It is not impossible.
  • by YUY Location: Tallahassee on Dec 10, 2010 at 01:09 PM
    I find the comment about "them" being treated better with housing, foodstamps, etc. to be offensive. The reason why is because. I have two children and have never been married. I also HAVE NEVER GOTTEN ANYTHING other than what I worked for. NOTHING, not even medicaid. I worked and went to college and took care of my children. There are people like you mentioned, but they are of all races.
  • by Amanda on Dec 10, 2010 at 01:01 PM
    redhead - ok, I see what you are saying. I don't know if her comments surprise me when I think of all she's endured during her life. These aren't views held by all, or even most Black Americans that I know, especially since Obama became President, as I think it proved once and for all that race can no longer be an excuse for failure in life. I feel that anyone is capable of success through hardwork and determination.
  • by redhead on Dec 10, 2010 at 10:36 AM
    Amanda, if you'll read Ms. James statement, that is what she thinks it's about. She took away from this story being about clearing records.
  • by Steve on Dec 10, 2010 at 09:54 AM
    Actually, me and oldesouth live in the same trailer park. What I didn't know is there are more Whites benefiting from welfare than Blacks. I know that my post is absolutely ridiculous and rife with misinformation, but it is fueled by my prejudice toward Blacks. The reason I am so broke is that nobody will hire me - they say I am too ignorant.
  • by Steve Location: Tallly on Dec 10, 2010 at 09:07 AM
    Waht does Barbara James mean still not being treated fair. Ameria is paying them to have children out of wedlock, is furnishing all their medicl and eahtl needs. Giving them subsidized, free housing. Even giving them food stamps in which they are able to buy groceries and carry them home in Lincoln Navigator or Escalade. They also get a $3,000.00 plus check in January caled income averaging. I wish me as a working broke tax payer was being treated as they are.
  • by Amanda Location: Florida on Dec 10, 2010 at 08:50 AM
    This is nothing to do with Black Americans wanting to be put in front of others or playing the 'race card.' This is about Blacks AND WHITES who wanted to be freed from their criminal record for doing a good deed in the 60s.
  • by George Location: Tally on Dec 10, 2010 at 07:12 AM
    HOw can America moe forwad when certain few wants to continue to drag up the past. We are to learn from the past and move forward. I get so sick and tired of certain groups wanting to be placed in front of others.
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