ST. AUGUSTINE. Fla, – Monday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. News4Jax is taking you behind the scenes of a new exhibit at the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center. It features five Black women who worked to make a difference during the civil rights movement and beyond.
The Lincolnville Museum, housed inside St. Augustine’s first Black public high school building, is chock full of history.
Many of the stories featured inside are well-known, but the untold stories are what inspire the museum’s executive director, Gayle Phillips.
“As we move more and more into a multicultural community and world, we need to appreciate the contributions of everybody,” Phillips said.
That includes 5 incredible women, whose stories are among those rich with history in the museum. They are Debbie McDade, Barbara Vickers, Mildred Larkins, Janie Price, and Katherine Twine
Twine was a registered nurse and was arrested several times for protesting in favor of civil rights. Phillips says Twine was be held outside of the jail in the blazing sun... that didn’t stop her.
“She started wearing this beautiful, like a sombrero, very colorful,” Phillips said. “Her motto was, ‘I’m going to carry my shade with me because I’m going to keep protesting.”
Debbie McDade was a famous jazz singer. Phillips says McDade left Lincolnville for New York at 17 to pursue her dreams. and was friends with artists like Fats Domino and Louis Armstrong.
Mildred Larkins was a teacher, who inspired those behind her to aim high.
“Her son became the first Black superintendent of schools for St. Johns County,” Phillips said. “Her other son was a part of the Tuskegee Airmen.”
Barbara Vickers was a “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II. She had multiple job skills, was a leader in the workforce, and mentored others. She also participated in civil rights demonstrations. Vickers advocated for the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Memorial to be added to the Plaza de la Constitucion in the heart of St. Augustine. In the text of the memorial, it says protesters fought racial discrimination by marching, picketing, kneeling, etc.
Finally, the exhibit focuses on Janie Price, another nurse. Her nurse’s cape is featured in the museum. Phillips says while working at Flagler Hospital, Price learned a white, less qualified colleague was making more money than she was.
“The supervisor says, ‘well, if you don’t like it, there’s the door’,” Phillips said. “She left that job in that protest.”
Phillips says Price was threatened, and blacklisted from even being considered for a position as a night-duty nurse. But Phillips said Price pushed on and was eventually hired as a nurse for the St. Johns County Health Department. During her time there, she advocated for other women.
“Women in migrant camps and places like that, who couldn’t really speak for themselves,” Phillips said. “Prenatal care and postnatal care.”
Five extraordinary Lincolnville women who persevered, whose contributions made a difference. Gayle Phillips says this is the first installation of this exhibit, but the museum could expand on it in the future. The exhibit is set to launch on April 23rd.