After Gainesville…

…I drove east to St. Augustine, according to Wikipedia, “the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States,” founded in 1565. I stayed in a studio apartment on the second floor of this house…img_1488on Pomar Street in the Lincolnville neighborhood, founded after Emancipation by former slaves. St. Augustine was one of the most segregated cities in the country. This is from a National Park Service web page:

 A dentist and NAACP representative named Robert Hayling from the historic subdivision of Lincolnville initiated the [1963] protest actions that eventually ended discrimination in the old city….Hayling organized campaigns against local segregated public facilities catering to tourists. He also urged the White House not to support the 400th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine set to take place in September 1965. When both efforts failed, he appealed to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) for help.

The SCLC called on New England universities to send volunteers to the city for March 1964 demonstrations and asked Lincolnville residents to provide food and lodging. By the end of one week of protests, police had arrested hundreds of demonstrators, including a delegation of rabbis and the 72-year-old mother of the governor of Massachusetts. White vigilantes terrorized local businesses that dared to serve African Americans.

In early June, Martin Luther King, Jr., came to St. Augustine and took part in a sit-in at Monson’s Motor Lodge. The same month, the SCLC arranged for baseball star Jackie Robinson to address a civil rights rally in Lincolnville. The publicity surrounding these two events hastened Congress’ passage of the Civil Rights Act on June 20, 1964.

Local segregationists initially refused to comply with the new Act. For example, when Monson’s manager noticed African Americans in the motel swimming pool, he threw acid into the water, then drained the pool and stationed guards around it. Angry white mobs also beat “wade-in” demonstrators at local beaches as well as the police assigned to protect them.

Right next door to my house is the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, with a piano once played by Ray Charles, who attended the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine. A couple of streets around my house had African American residents, businesses, and churches, but the farther I walked the whiter things seemed.

I spent most mornings in my apartment, transcribing my notes from the Mepkin retreat, winding up with 20 typewritten pages. When I went out, I determined that St. Augustine is picturesque…


Flagler College, once the Ponce de León Hotel



Castillo de San Marcos



and very touristy.    img_1680

A short drive off the island that contains the city proper, however, was Anastasia State Park, with spectacular beaches…img_1542…and farther south, St. Augustine Beach.



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