FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — In a story Dec. 24 about the death of Dr. Robert B. Hayling, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Hayling was among a group known as “The St. Augustine Four” who were members of the NAACP Youth Council. Hayling was an adviser to the Youth Council but was not part of “The St. Augustine Four,” known for spending six months in a Florida jail and reform school in 1964 after they asked to be served at a Woolworth’s lunch counter. The AP also reported erroneously the date Hayling died. He died Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, not Sunday, Dec. 20. The story also reported erroneously that a public memorial service was being planned for January; it is scheduled for Feb. 20.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Dr. Robert Hayling, Florida civil rights leader, dies at 86
Dr. Robert Hayling, influential civil rights leader in Florida, dies at 86
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Dr. Robert B. Hayling, a dentist and influential civil rights activist in Florida during the 1960s, has died. He was 86.
Hayling died Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, at home in Fort Lauderdale, his sister, Yvonne Hayling-Clarke, told The Associated Press. No cause of death has been determined.
As an adviser to the NAACP Youth Council, Hayling was cited as an inspiration for some of the group’s members who became known as “The St. Augustine Four.” That group made national news after they spent six months in a Florida jail and reform school in 1964 after asking to be served at a Woolworth’s lunch counter.
They were released only after protests by 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 U.S. 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.”
Still, Hayling’s deeds also stoked anger in the community. He was beaten at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1963, and his home was shot 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 memorial is scheduled for Feb. 20, according to the civil rights museum.