Monday, January 21, 2013

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Suggestions

In recognition of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday I have a couple of book suggestions for those interested.

Many of you will already know I am working on a book dealing with St. Augustine, FL and the American Civil War. Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has a direct tie in with St. Augustine? It's true and there are couple of very good books out there on the subject.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Monson
Motor Lodge owner Jimmy Brock. 1964.
In 1963 the local F. W. Woolworth was the scene of a sit-in where over 20 protesters were arrested. Protests and counter protests grew to be common place and racially charged violence became the norm. The year 1964 was to be the kick off of the 400th anniversary of the city. When black leaders were excluded from the kick off event the city became a target for protests by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and even included visits from Dr. King himself. Dr. King was arrested while trying integrate the whites only Monson Motor Lodge on June 11, 1964. This was the only time he was arrested in the state. On a closely related note: The Monson Motor Lodge was torn down in 2003 to make room for the large Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront facing Matanzas Bay. This is really a loss but not completely unexpected in a city that while it thrives on history has allowed much history to fall to the bulldozer.

The St. Augustine Foot Soldiers
Monument, located in the
Plaza De La Constitucion
In May 2011 the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument was unveiled. Weighing over 8,000 pounds the bronze and coquina sculpture pays tribute to those who bravely marched during the hot summer of 1964. The four faces are not of specific individuals but rather are meant to portray the average marcher including both black and white, young and old. Sculptor Brian R. Owens created the main sculpture and Enzo Torcoletti designed the base.

Recommended reading on the subject includes Racial Change and Community Crisis: St. Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980 (Florida Sand Dollar Books) written by noted Florida historian David Colburn. While the title of the book suggests a much broader time frame the books focus is mostly on the period of the 1960's. Despite being twenty years old this is really the go-to work on the subject.

Attorney Dan Warren was appointed as the governor's representative in St. Augustine during this struggle. In If It Takes All Summer: Martin Luther King, the KKK, and States' Rights in St. Augustine, 1964 Warren recounts his own story of helping to crack down on the KKK and local leaders who stymied and stonewalled the rights of black citizens. I have read only bits but this looks to be an interesting first hand account of the time.

Author David Garrow has edited a book titled St. Augustine, Florida, 1963-1964: Mass Protest and Racial Violence (Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, Vol 10). I don't know anything about this book however. Dr. Garrow has written widely on the Civil Rights movement so I would expect this to be a worthy contribution.

The Florida Legislature also had investigations done and these were published in 1965 as Racial and Civil Disorders in St. Augustine : Report of the Legislative Investigation Committee. Further information is available on the Florida Division of Library and Information Services website. Again, I have not seen a copy of this report.

For further information be sure to visit the Accord Freedom Trail website.

No comments:

Post a Comment