« St. Augustine Inlet Undergoes Emergency Dredging | Main | Slightly Stoopid w/ Rebelution and Guests August 21 @ St. Augustine Amphitheater »
Wednesday
Aug102011

Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach

St. Augustine Beach recently acquired its first historic marker, courtesy of ACCORD and the Northrop Grumman Corporation. It celebrates the historic beach wade-ins of the 1964 civil rights movement, which attracted international attention to the small community on Anastasia Island.

Initially planned as a 50th birthday gift to the city in 2009, the project was delayed by the economic downturn, and then awaited an appropriate historic visitor to take part in an unveiling ceremony. That came this summer when Dorothy Cotton, one of the closest living associates of Dr. Martin Luther King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, agreed to speak at the annual Freedom Trail banquet sponsored by ACCORD.

She is writing about her experiences at the beach wade-ins in her forthcoming memoirs. An octogenarian resident of Ithaca, N.Y., where she is retired from Cornell University, Cotton returned to St. Augustine for the first time in many years. She remembered being hit in the head when she tried to go to the beach in 1964, and said she still has a ringing in her ears from that beating. She had taken a group of young people with her, and one of them got her nose broken. That young woman grew up to be Cynthia Mitchell Clark, assistant superintendent of schools in Miami. While here recently, Cotton said she was delighted to meet her mother, Queen E. Mitchell McCall, also involved in the '64 movement.

Additional speaker

Joining Cotton at the unveiling ceremonies was retired New York policeman Purcell Conway. As a teenager in St. Augustine, Conway took part in the beach wade-ins, and shared memories of "Bloody Sunday," when a special police force created by the governor finally cleared a path to the beach for a group of black and white civil rights supporters who had previously been harassed and attacked by segregationists. With the path opened, the group was finally able to enter the Atlantic Ocean that washes up on the shores of Africa.

Historian David Nolan, as master of ceremonies, recalled how civil rights leader Bayard Rustin was fond of saying that "American democracy was made on the streets" and then added: "But in 1964 it was also made on the beaches, here in St. Augustine."

The demonstrations in the Ancient City, it was noted at the gathering, led directly to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most important pieces of legislation in modern history, and one of the two great legislative accomplishments of the civil rights movement.

The marker remained covered by the Florida state flag, until it was removed by a distinguished group that included Cotton, Conway, ACCORD president Gwendolyn Duncan, Cecil Bateman from Northrop Grumman Corporation, and Dr. Robert B. Hayling, leader of the St. Augustine movement.

Located next to the old St. Augustine Beach City Hall, an historic coquina building that now houses the St. Johns Cultural Council, the new marker joins 30 others to form a Freedom Trail of historic sites of the civil rights movement. A brochure and map of the Freedom Trail is available at the Visitor Information Center.

This article appeared in Wednesday's edition of the St. Augustine Record

References (22)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: Source
    Amazing Web site, Keep up the excellent job. Thanks for your time.
  • Response
    Response: USHUD
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: USHUD
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: USHUD
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: USHUD
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: Link K Schwartz
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: /USHUD/
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: Link Schwartz
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: USHUD
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: Joseph Chinnock
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: thesis review
    Residences could be ordered by, if, and how they are associated with neighboring residences and land. Distinctive types of lodging residency could be used for the same physical type.
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    Response: cctv perth
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach
  • Response
    St Augustine Life - Life in St Augustine, Florida - Civil Rights Marker Unveiled In St. Augustine Beach

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>