Letter: St. Augustine's role in Civil Rights movement largely forgotten

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  • | 8:00 a.m. May 30, 2024
Letters to the editor
Letters to the editor
  • Palm Coast Observer
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Take a fresh look at area's Black history

Dear Editor: 

Recently, more than a dozen members of Seeking Insights for Solutions   from Flagler County (including myself) met with David Nolan, one of the founders of the ACCORD Civil Rights Museum in St. Augustine’s historic Lincolnville neighborhood.  

What none of my Black nor White colleagues and I had previously known was that St. Augustine has one of the most consequential Black histories in the nation spanning more than 400 years, beginning in 1565, (more than a half-century before settlers founded Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619). We were also amazed to learn that St. Augustine was the most important place in Florida in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested there, and the campaign in which he participated led directly to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dr. King went directly from St. Augustine to the White House for the bill’s signing which until then its passage had been held up in one of the longest Senate filibusters in U.S. history.

July 2 marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act into law, one day after a state task force is scheduled to finalize its selection for the location of Florida’s Black History Museum. (The task force voted on May 21 to move forward with St. Augustine as its recommended site).

As you make plans for your summer and July 4th celebrations, SIS encourages you to take a fresh look at our nation’s history, including its rich Black history in St. Augustine. To make this easy for visitors, ACCORD has established a Freedom Trail project. Brochures and maps are available at the Visitor Information Center. And on July 1, ACCORD is hosting a free film festival and book signing open to the public.

St. Augustine is a national treasure, rich in history. But it is so much more than what we learned in school or gleaned from tourism ads. SIS believes its Black history is precious and worthy of a new look. 

Susan Moya

Palm Coast 


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