The Top X List is a list of the top 10 people that the Black Heritage Xperience would like to commemerate for their contribution to the black history of Saint Augustine. They range from the house hold names of Martin Luther King Jr., to the unsung heroes of our community. This list will be updated every ten weeks.
Did you know? The legendary singer Ray Charles went to school here in St. Augustine. Ray attended Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, formerly named The Institute for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb, after becoming blind during his youth.
Officer Walton, Wayde Carroll, Otis Harris Sr., and D.J. Johnson
Officer Walton, Wayde Carroll, Otis Harris Sr., and D.J. Johnson were black police officers in the 20th century in St. Augustine.
A rare jewel by the name of Annie Shepherd Rutledge resided in St. Augustine. Mrs. Rutledge was a lifelong educator, mentor, friend, and mother to many. Despite segregation and other obstacles, Mrs. Rutledge received her master’s degree in education and taught for many years. Amazingly, Mrs. Rutledge taught eight different grade levels in a single room church, off of Tocoi Rd. in St. Augustine.
Dr. Daniel Roberts
Dr. Daniel Roberts was the first black doctor to be allowed to perform surgery at Flagler Hospital. Dr. Roberts sacrificed his life after treating a vast amount of black and white patients affected by the flu epidemic of 1918. It’s rumored that not one patient died that he cared for during this outbreak, while he outworked his counterparts with patient visits. Dr. Roberts was 52 years old when he died.
Henry and Katherine Twine
Henry and Katherine Twine were dedicated to equality between races and were very instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement. Henry served as a city commissioner and was the first black vice mayor. Both were arrested during demonstrations in St. Augustine. The labors of Katherine were acknowledged by the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush and local mayor, George Gardner, upon her death.
Cary White, Sr.
Cary White, Sr. was the first black deaf graduate of The Institute for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb (Florida School for the Deaf and Blind) in 1922 and following this, worked at the school for 46 years as a carpenter, mason, electrician, and vocational teacher. A building was named after Mr. White at the school.
James and Hattie White
James and Hattie White were dedicated to their family, community, country and friends. James was an original Buffalo soldier and he served in WWII. James and Hattie assisted in the Civil Rights Movement. The last standing slave cabin in Lincolnville was found on their property.
James “Jimmy” Jackson
James “Jimmy” Jackson of St. Augustine is a walking testimony of the vicious abuse and turmoil seen and expected by many blacks in the 1960’s. Jimmy was a member of the NAACP Youth Council. Jimmy, along with Clyde Jenkins, Dr. Robert Hayling and Jimmy Hauser attempted to listen in on a Klu Klux Klan Meeting and were caught. They were beaten severely and plans for their impending death were imminent until the Sheriff stepped forward and stopped it.
Jazz great, Marcus Roberts was a student at Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine. Defying the stigmatisms of being black and blind, Marcus Roberts used his self-taught talent of playing the piano to overcome the odds. This Grammy nominated artist has toured with Wynton Marsalis, studied and graduated from Florida State University, and grew up in the neighboring city of Jacksonville, Florida. Within the confines of a hectic schedule, he mentors, directs and serves as an Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Florida State University.
The origins of the Proctor family began right in St. Augustine. That’s right, Antonio Proctor, formerly named Antonio Propinos changed his name when he was granted freedom from slavery and began the genealogy of the Proctors. Mr. Proctor had a lot of power and was well respected during a time of slavery. He served as an Indian interpreter for the first American Governor of Florida. During the 20th century, a tradition was started through the direct descendents of Antonio for a yearly Father’s Day celebration, but is now celebrated on Mother’s Day. The Proctor Family is one of the oldest black families in St. Johns County.