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Kat Twine of St. Augustine was known as the 'Rosa Parks' of Florida

5:21 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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  • Photo courtesy: 40th ACCORD
    

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Katherine Twine was a nurse who liked to crochet, wear pretty hats and she moved to a house in the Lincolnville neighborhood in St. Augustine in the 1950's.

Otis Mason runs the Lincolnville Museum. He knew the Twines, and said, "She had an outgoing personality. She was wonderful to talk with."

Kat -- as she was called -- and her husband, Henry, were a team during the civil rights movement. He had a job with the federal government and he couldn't get arrested or he'd lose his job, historian David Nolan said. "But Mrs. Twine made up for that by going to jail early and often in the cause of civil rights."

She demonstrated by marching and going to sit-ins at local businesses in St. Augustine during the civil rights movement and that's why she was arrested about 5 times, according to Nolan.

She was arrested so frequently during that time that "she kept a bag packed by her door and if the police came to arrest her, she'd pick up the bag and had everything ready," Nolan said.

And she had a hat.

It's now known as the Freedom Hat. She'd wear the straw hat at the St. Johns County Jail.

"In those days," Nolan explained, "they used to put people in a chain link enclosure behind the jail, under the beating sun. There were no trees for shade and people would faint during the time spent there. So Mrs. Twine got her 'freedom hat' which was her own personal shade."

Kat Twine also participated in the March on Washington 50 years ago. A button from that day is now pinned to her 'freedom hat'. It's on display at the Lincolnville Museum.

It was a hat that was needed for the hot Florida sun ... and for a city named St. Augustine that was hot during the civil rights movement.

Mason said not everyone was against each other, but there was tension.

"There was a feeling that change would occur, but there were those elements who didn't want change at all," he said.

Twine took part in meetings with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while he was in St. Augustine. While King may have led the nation during the civil rights movement, it was people like Kat Twine who were the boots on the ground, wearing a straw hat.

First Coast News

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