By Alex Banks
I am currently interning in the Proctor Library here at Flagler College and working on the Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine. The Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine is a multimedia website that presents the history of race relations in St. Augustine during the period of 1963-1965. Throughout the summer my main task has been to improve the amount of information available to the public. My main task for the first portion of the internship has been to write biographies for both integrationists, and segregationists in St. Augustine. I am now working on properly citing and obtaining material to support the claims made on the site. The internship feels like a culmination of working on the project for over a year, and being able to see the final product of that work is very exciting.
In a conversation with Eve Simpson, she said of her involvement in the local civil rights movement that she “tried to give moral support to the people in the struggle.” When I first met Simpson, I never thought I would learn of an entirely new group involved in the local movement. Simpson, along with her husband Ron Messina, owned a convenience store—the Hi-Nabor Market. In the 1960s, the store became a target of racial extremist Connie Lynch and his Ku Klux Klan allies following Messina’s refusal to allow the Klan to use his property for rallies. After they vandalized and boycotted the store, Messina and Simpson involved themselves with likeminded neighbors who supported the end of segregation laws. This group was comprised of local residents—some natives and some transplants from the North—who met on a regular basis to discuss the movement, offer suggestions on where activists could stay, and provide moral support.
Learning of this support group was a real revelation. Simpson revealed information that our project had not yet uncovered. Stories such as Simpson’s represent how history continuously evolves.