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THE LOSS OF A LEADER

The momentum of the "Highwaymen" movement came to a halt in the fall of 1970.

 

Many members of the group frequented a local juke joint by the name of "Eddie's Place", on Avenue D in Fort Pierce. The Highwaymen would often meet here after a day of sales, enjoying drinks and swapping stories boasting how many paintings they had sold that day.

 

On August 9th, Livingston Roberts and Alfred Hair drove to Eddie's Place for a drink and to shoot pool. A disagreement arose between Alfred and a man named Julius Funderburk, during which they argued briefly and Funderburk left. Funderburk later returned with a pistol and shot Alfred Hair. Hair was rushed to the hospital, where he passed away later that night. Hair was only 29 years old.

For many of the Highwaymen the drive to paint was gone following Hairs death. The times were changing already, and Alfred was the heart of the group. Many took time off and mourned the loss of their beloved friend. Accounts and attitudes of the time stress that it was not just the loss of one man. It was the loss of a local hero. Alfred was in fact a prominent member of the community, and recognized for his passion, charm, and generosity. He was a person that many looked up to, and during a discriminatory era, he gave hope to those who had only been shown what African Americans could not do.

 

While some returned to painting in the 1970s, others gave up on painting entirely. Some returned to orange groves and packing houses, some picked up other various jobs and left the past behind them. 

Florida Highwaymen Alfred Hair
ST. LUCIE NEWS TRIBUNE, AUG 10, 1970
Harold Newton, "Eddie's Place", Jacobs Collection

EDDIE'S PLACE BY HAROLD NEWTON, JACOBS COLLECTION

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