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"Florida's Birmingham": The Civil Rights Movement in St. Augustine: Overview

St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement (1964)

Documentary on Civil Rights Protests in St. Augustine

From the ACCORD Freedom Trail Website:

The team of Andrew Young Presents has completed taping and editing of Part I & II of the Documentary Film, "Crossing St. Augustine". Part One of the documentary begins with the story of Rev. Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and Mayor of Atlanta, GA. who in 1964, was sent to St. Augustine by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and ends with him being brutally beaten while police stood by and watched. 

Part II picks back up with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s decision to wage a modern-day Battle of Jericho in St. Augustine.

Main Text

St. Augustine in 1964 became known as Florida's Birmingham.   As a vote on the Civil Rights Act loomed in Congress, protests against segregation amplified in St. Augustine, diverting attention from the city's upcoming 400th anniversary celebration of its founding.  Instead television viewers saw violent confrontations between protesters and white supremecists, video of black bathers being accosted on the beach or arrested for swimming in segregated pools.  

Marches and protests were organized by several local activists for civil rights.  Intially, protests were directed to the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, asking that he deny St. Augustine funding for its anniversary events if these events were segregated.   Subsequently, the local NAACP and its St. Augustine Youth Council, under the leadership of Dr. Robert B. Hayling, began formal protests against segregated businesses in the city.       Demonstrations eventually drew in participation from national leaders such as Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young, and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.  

This website brings together film footage, oral histories, and other source material that document this important moment in Florida and national history.

Compiled and Designed By

Jennifer Lyon (UF 2012)

University of Florida Home Page

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