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Africans were among the first to explore Florida upon its discovery. In the 1500s, they joined Ponce de Leon and Pedro Menendez as soldiers in the service of Spain. African Americans established the first legally sanctioned free black settlement in the U.S. in 1738. Escaped British slaves found freedom in St. Augustine by converting to Catholicism and joining the Spanish in defending their territory. Their home became Fort Mose, where free men and their families formed a militia and the northern defense post for the nation’s oldest city.
Fort Mose Historic State Park has also been recognized as one of the original sites on the southern route of the Underground Railroad. In 1994 the site was designated as a National Historic Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The grounds include accessible tours, a museum full of history, an interpretive exhibit, and many opportunities for enjoying the natural beauty of the site. The park also hosts numerous historic reenactments throughout the year.
Fort Mose is located at 15 Fort Mose Trail, St. Augustine, less than 5 minutes from the city’s historical attractions, restaurants, and shopping areas.
The Civil Rights Movement and St. Augustine
St. Augustine played a pivotal role in the nation’s Civil Rights movement. On June 9, 1964, Civil Rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in St. Augustine during a protest for human rights. Alongside King was Andrew Young, who led a night march from Lincolnville to the Constitution Plaza where he was met with violent opposition. His courageous walk is now memorialized in the Plaza with the Andrew Young Crossing, where visitors can walk in his footsteps. Around the same time, the “St. Augustine Four” caught the attention of the country with the simple act of sitting at the Woolworth’s counter. St. Augustine became a site for politics, protest, and progress during this era.
St. Augustine Civil Rights Library
In 2013, Flagler College launched the Civil Rights Library www.CivilRights.Flagler.edu, an extensive online archive. This resource is the culmination of years of research and collaboration between faculty, students, historians, and witnesses who lived in and visited St. Augustine during the tumultuous times of the Civil Rights movement. The student-led project features locally exclusive artifacts, including FBI files describing Martin Luther King Jr.’s time in St. Augustine, details on the arrest of the St. Augustine Four, audio of Jackie Robinson’s visit, and Civil Rights archives from Andrew Young.
Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center
Visitors to the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center will learn about the important story of the African American experience in St. Augustine. From Fort Mose, the first free African American settlement in North America to today’s motivators and educators the exhibits and programs are enthralling and inspirational. The museum’s current exhibits include Lincolnville Lifeways, that explores the bustling Lincolnville neighborhood in the mid-20th century through the eyes of its inhabitants; Defenders, which explores the journey of West Afrikaners across the Atlantic and throughout the colonial period to discover how African people contributed to the early success of Florida; and Women Who Made A Difference, a digital interactive exhibit that explores the lives of several St. Augustine iconic Black women. Through the winter and Spring, Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center will present the Lincolnville Jazz at the Excelsior series which showcases jazz through the ages from its African roots to the fusion sounds of the millennia.
By Appointment: ACCORD Civil Rights Museum
Discover St. Augustine’s role in the struggle for Civil Rights and the city’s pivotal influence in the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Housed in the former offices of Dr. Robert Hayling, a local dentist who was instrumental in getting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to personally participate in the efforts to desegregate the Oldest City, the museum features numerous artifacts and documents relating to the local Civil Rights movement. Admission is by appointment only. Contact Liz Duncan at 904-347-1382. Admission is free (donations accepted). 79 Bridge St., St. Augustine. www.AccordFreedomTrail.org
Accord Freedom Trail
The ACCORD Freedom Trail Project consists of 31 historic markers located at various sites significant to the St. Augustine Civil rights movement. A cell phone audio tour is available by calling 904-335-3002. Learn more at www.accordfreedomtrail.org.
African Americans in Sports
Explore the World Golf Hall of Fame "Honoring the Legacy" exhibit that celebrates African Americans in golf from the late 1800s through today’s game. This exhibition contains rare photographs, audio, video, and memorabilia, as well as a sculpture designed by the renowned artist Mario Chiodo which celebrates 13 African American golf legends. For more about this special exhibit visit World Golf Hall of Fame.
WAYS TO CELEBRATE AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY, HERITAGE AND CIVIL RIGHTS
First Saturdays - Militia Muster and Training at Fort Mose Historic State Park
From 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. members of the Fort Mose Militia offer visitors the opportunity to participate in the children's militia training, using wooden toy muskets and authentic uniform accessories. Admission is $4 per vehicle or $2 for pedestrians or bicyclists. 15 Fort Mose Tr., St. Augustine. 904-823-2232 www.floridastateparks.org/park/Fort-Mose
February 2 & 3, 2023 - Flight to Freedom at Fort Mose
Each year Fort Mose the Flight to Freedom event recreates the 17th century experience of the hundreds of slaves who traveled here in search of freedom, featuring several reenactors portraying the various characters who would have impacted a freedom seeker's journey to Spanish Florida. 15 Fort Mose Trail, St. Augustine. 904-823-2232 www.floridastateparks.org/park/Fort-Mose
February- Fort Mose Jazz & Blues Series
Live from Fort Mose State Historic Park, a collection of six memorable performances honoring both the rich history of American music, and the legacy of the first free Black settlement in what is now the United States. Featured artist performances in 2023 include Mavis Staple, Christian McBride’s New Jawn, Gladys Knight, and more.
February & March – I Lived Here as Well – A Woman’s Story
This experience at Ximenez-Fatio House Museum tells the story of urban slavery from the woman’s perspective is a guided tour led by costumed actors taking place which take place each Thursday- Saturday. www.ximenezfatiohouse.org/ilhaw
March - Annual Commemoration of the Founding of Fort Mose
The founding of Fort Mose in 1738 is the central theme of programs presented throughout the day. Admission is $4 per vehicle or $2 for pedestrians or bicyclists. 15 Fort Mose Trail, St. Augustine. 904-823-2232 www.floridastateparks.org/park/Fort-Mose
June - Battle of Bloody Mose
This annual re-enactment of the June 26, 1740, Battle of Bloody Mose provides visitors with an exciting look at this pivotal battle between the British under the command of Georgia’s James Oglethorpe and the Spanish militia, composed of former British slaves who had been granted their freedom by the Spanish. The event is weather permitting. Admission to the grounds is free, and admission to the Museum Visitor Center is $2 per person. 15 Fort Mose Trail, St. Augustine. 904-823-2232 www.floridastateparks.org/park/Fort-Mose
Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were now free. The troops’ arrival came two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln. The end of slavery in the United States is celebrated on Juneteenth and is a national holiday. In celebration, Lincolnville Jazz at the Excelsior series at the Lincolnville Museum AND Cultural Center will showcases jazz through the ages from its African roots to the fusion sounds of the millennia.
Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida’s Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra, and 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches. For information call 1.800.653.2489 or go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com. Check us out on Twitter @FlHistoricCoast on Instagram @FloridasHistoricCoast and @ViajaSanAgustin on Facebook.com/OfficialStAugustine and Facebook.com/ViajaSanAgustin. #StAugustine #PonteVedra #FloridasHistoricCoast #ViajaSanAgustin