(Extensions of Remarks - October 10, 2007)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2115]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                         HON. GINNY BROWN-WAITE

                               of florida

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, October 10, 2007

  Ms. GINNY BROWN-WAITE of Florida. Madam Speaker, I rise today to 
recognize an outstanding individual who lived in the early days of 
Brooksville, Rev. Arthur St. Clair. Rev. St. Clair will be posthumously 
awarded the 2007 Great Brooksvillian of the Year at a ceremony next 
week. The award is presented annually to a current or former resident 
who has made a significant impact on the city of Brooksville.
  Born in 1837, Arthur St. Clair was the former slave of Marina 
Sanderson May, a landowner and taxpayer in Brooksville. Upon gaining 
his freedom, Rev. St. Clair became a leader in the Reconstruction-era 
politics of Hernando County and a founder of the Bethlehem Progressive 
Baptist Church. He also went on to become a Baptist minister, presiding 
over services at the new church, originally located on South Lemon 
Street. He and his brother also helped to found the first African-
American school in Hernando County.
  Eventually rising to serve as the voter registrar, deputy sheriff, 
county commissioner, a captain in the state militia, and a four-time 
Republican nominee for the Florida State House of Representatives, Rev. 
St. Clair was a prominent leader in Brooksville and Hernando County. In 
an era when black men throughout the South were looked down upon and 
relegated to second class citizenship, it is a testament to the 
character and personality of Arthur St. Clair that he remained a valued 
member of the Hernando County community for so many years.
  In his role as an African-American Baptist minister, Rev. St. Clair 
was not afraid to take on controversial issues, including that of mixed 
marriages; those marriages considered taboo in the mid to late 19th 
century. On a spring day in 1877, Rev. St. Clair presided over a 
wedding ceremony between a black man and a white woman. This did not 
sit well with several members of the community, and later that summer 
on a trip home from Fort Dade, a mob set upon Rev. St. Clair and shot 
him to death.
  In efforts to cover up the crime, the perpetrators then set fire to 
the courthouse, burning all the records and voter files for the entire 
county. This led to a severe deterioration of race relations in 
Hernando County, an episode that some have called a ``race war'' and 
left a lasting impression on Hernando County for nearly a quarter of a 
  Madam Speaker, the city of Brooksville was lucky to have had a man 
like Arthur St. Clair take an active role in our community and have 
been such an advocate for civic involvement and religious freedoms. I 
am proud to recognize his accomplishments, and congratulate his 
descendants on Arthur St. Clair being named the 2007 Great 
Brooksvillian of the Year.