Vines memorial planned

Published 8:51 pm Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Suffolk woman will hold a memorial service next week for a Suffolk native and one of the leaders of sit-in protests at downtown lunch counters in the days of segregation.

The Rev. J. Rayfield Vines died in August 2012 at the age of 75. His first cousin, Vernetta Vines, will hold the ceremony July 11 at 1 p.m.

“We’re trying to get this to be a historical event,” Vines said.

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The Rev. J.J. Ferguson will do a dedication of a memorial stone, Vines said. Special music, prayer and scripture readings also will take place.

“We’re not trying to make it long,” she said.

Vines was arrested in 1960 after leading sit-in protests at Suffolk’s lunch counters. He was charged with parading without a permit, unlawful group gathering, leading a mob, inciting a riot, holding a public meeting on city property without a permit from the city manager and integrating a segregated establishment, according to an account of the incident on an NAACP Unsung Heroes blog.

Vines was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School and went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State, two master’s degrees and then a Doctor of Ministry degree from Virginia Union University. He taught in public school systems throughout the state and was the pastor of Hungary Road Baptist Church in Glen Allen when he died. The year before he died, he had ended a term as president of the Virginia State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“He was a real genuine-type guy,” Vernetta Vines said of her cousin. “Everybody that met him loved him.”

She said Vines believed the NAACP was for all people.

“Rayfield always told me, ‘Vernetta, the NAACP is not just for black people. I don’t know where that comes from. I help anybody,’” she said. “He was just a gratifying person. He wanted people to love one another. He was an example for anybody.”