In partnership with WJCT Public Radio in Jacksonville, Flagler College Sociology Associate Professor Dr. Casey Welch has begun production of a 30-month series of live interviews covering issues of importance to black heritage and civil rights in St. Augustine. The series, called “Black Heritage, Civil Rights Movement and Contemporary Race Issues in St. Augustine,” will air during the 9 a.m. hour on the first Wednesday of each month during WJCT’s First Coast Connect on 89.9 FM.
The interview series began in July with a conversation between WJCT’s First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross and Christopher and Walter Eugene White, sons of the late Hattie White, a local civil rights icon. The two are also brothers of Samuel White, one of the original “St. Augustine Four” who were arrested for trying to eat at the whites-only lunch counter at the local Woolworth’s.
An August interview featured Ambassador Andrew Young who had worked under the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and had been highly involved in civil rights protests in St. Augustine. The series continues on Sept. 7 with an interview with State Senator Tony Hill, who in late 2010 led efforts to clear the arrest records of St. Augustine Civil Rights pioneers.
The radio interview series is one element of wide-ranging efforts spearheaded by Welch to bring clarity and organization to African-American heritage in St. Augustine. The interviews, which were proposed to WJCT by Welch, are intended to help raise awareness of black heritage throughout the community prior to 2014, the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.
“Black heritage is a significant part of our history here in St. Augustine,” Welch said. “Through the WJCT radio interviews, we are working to build cognitive clarity about black heritage prior to 2014 so that when we get to that point, people will be more engaged and will better understand the significance of the events. We hope to bring some organization to the information that’s out there.”
Dr. David Colburn
University of Florida Historian of Race and Politics in Florida