A Walk in African American Shoes
While the Nation’s Oldest City is best known for its Spanish heritage and history, African Americans have played a significant role in the story of St. Augustine from its very beginning.
1. Fort Mose Historic State Park
Start where it all started. Did you know that Africans were among the first to explore Florida, having arrived with Pedro Menendez in 1565? At Fort Mose Historic State Park, African Americans established the first legally-sanctioned free black settlement in the U.S. in 1738 and formed a militia and the northern defense post for the nation’s oldest city. This historic spot is one of the original sites on the southern route of the Underground Railroad. Explore the grounds, walk along the boardwalk over the marsh toward where the original settlement once stood. Be sure to tour the museum’s interactive displays that tell the amazing story of this first settlement and check the schedule for reenactments like the Flight to Freedom and the Battle of Bloody Mose.
2. Hangar One Bistro
After touring Fort Mose, stop in the Hangar One Bistro at the nearby North Florida Regional Airport. Here you can enjoy a specialty prepared dish by African American Chef Tyrone Bennett. A Johnson & Wales trained chef, Bennett is on a mission to change the culinary lens on Florida’s Historic Coast. Be sure to try the yucca fries with the amazing Jerk Chicken sandwich or the four-cheese garlic grilled sandwich.
3. ACCORD Freedom Trail
You can learn a lot about the African American experience on Florida’s Historic Coast just by walking along the streets of downtown St. Augustine. Start your journey with a walk through Lincolnville. This is the first community built by ex-slaves and freedmen in the post-Civil War era. Look for 31 historic markers along the ACCORD Freedom Trail identifying various sites significant to the Civil Rights movement that took place in St. Augustine.
4. Andrew Young Crossing
At Andrew Young Crossing, located at the west end of Plaza de la Constitucion in the center of town, you can literally walk in Rev. Andrew Young’s footsteps, as his famous march for civil rights is memorialized in brass. Just ahead, the bronze memorial of the Foot Soldiers, built in remembrance of those who protested peacefully during the turbulent 60’s. Did you know that St. Augustine was the location of the famous Woolworth counter sit-in in 1963? You can see a photo montage of the event on a window at the original location on King Street, now a bank.
5. Lincolnville Museum & Cultural Center
The Lincolnville Museum & Cultural Center is located in what was once a “colored school” in 1902. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, visitors can view art exhibits and hear oral histories told by locals that offer a rich, immersive experience of the African American journey in the ancient city dating back 455 years.
6. Afternoon Snack
As you walk along MLK Avenue, be sure to stop by The Corner Market for some of its famous beet pastries as you enjoy the artwork and vintage clothing at this quaint and historic location. Hungry for some comfort food and southern hospitality? Head down the block to The Blue Hen and order up a biscuit with peach butter. You’ll be back.