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Massachusetts Governor’s Mother Jailed in St. Augustine

Mar. 31, 1964 - The 72-year-old mother of the Governor of Massachusetts was jailed today for leading racial demonstrations in St. Augustine, Fla., that attracted hundreds of singing Negro youths and resulted in 117 arrests.

Mrs. Mary Peabody (right), mother of Governor Endicott Peabody, was arrested as she was preparing to sit down with a biracial group in the segregated dining room of the Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge. She said she telephoned her son this morning and told him she had decided she would be arrested.

“He told me to do anything I thought was right,” she said. “It’s very pleasant here,” Mrs. Peabody said of the St. John’s County jail. “There are seven of us in one cell, all white women, and we have running water and a shower.”

She said she planned to spend the night in jail because “it wouldn’t be right to just come in and go out again.” She was charged with trespassing after a warning and jailed under a $100 bond.

Altogether, nearly 200 persons have been arrested since demonstrations started in the nation’s oldest city last weekend.

The arrest of Mrs. Peabody came after hours of frantic activity by the St. Augustine police. At one point, authorities had tear gas and electric cattle prods ready, but in the end they were not used. Police dogs were used to help control the crowds, but were kept on leashes.

Mrs. Peabody, who has seven grandchildren, arrived Sunday night and declared she was going to campaign for a “better deal” for Negroes.

“We need some old people in this thing,” Mrs. Peabody said. “We are just what they say we are — do-gooders.”

She said the trespassing law she violated “is not a proper law according to my view.”

Asked if she were tired, she said: “Oh, gracious no. I feel fine.” Her trip to Florida is her first venture into active civil rights demonstrations.

Governor Peabody said today that he could only express admiration for his mother’s “courage, sincerity, and determination.”


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