St. Augustine: The Ideal Place to Celebrate and Learn About American Black History

During Black History month and throughout the year, experience the story from the beginning and through the ages in Historic St. Augustine

January 18, 2022
Fort Mose Historical Society Reenactment in St. Augustine FL

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Contact: Barbara Golden
Phone: 904-669-8142
Email: BGolden@FloridasHistoricCoast.com

St. Augustine, FL (January 18, 2022): St. Augustine, Florida is historically known for the Spanish settlers that came here and claimed the continent in the 16th century. America’s black history began here too.

St. Augustine was founded by Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565, along with 800 colonists which included Africans. The first recorded birth of a black child in North America is documented in St. Augustine Catholic parish records. The first recorded escaped slaves from the Carolinas arrived in St. Augustine in 1687.

Spain granted sanctuary and freedom to escaped slaves. In 1738 Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (Fort Mose) was established at St. Augustine as the first free black community in North America.

In 1763, at the signing of the Treaty of Paris, Spanish Florida came under British rule and the residents of Fort Mose and St. Augustine’s Spanish colonists fled Florida to resettle in Cuba forming the town of Ceiba Mocha. Florida returned to Spanish rule in 1763, until it became a US Territory in 1821, but Fort Mose was never re-established until 1989, when the land was purchased by the state of Florida.

The history of Black Americans in St. Augustine is long and well documented, including the civil rights struggle that took place here in 1964.

Today, black history can be seen and celebrated throughout St. Augustine – from the downtown Plaza de la Constitucion to the beaches of Anastasia Island. And there’s no better time to experience this rich heritage than Black History Month. Narrated tours, museums, historic sites, and concerts are just a few ways to experience the rich history of the black experience in the Nation’s oldest city.

  • Leading up to Black History Month, The Saint Augustine Film Festival will feature the premier of Freedom on Our Mind on January 22, a film shot in St. Augustine, and multiple screenings at the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center on January 21 & 22. These screenings include Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism; Fireburn: The Documentary; and Go-Go City: Displacement & Protest in D.C.
  • The Flight to Freedom’s performances are about the desperation of the people who risked their lives to escape a life of servitude to live as free men and women takes place at Fort Mose January 27-29.
  • The Lenny Foster Photography Exhibition: "Where We Stand" will be on display at the St. Johns County Admin Building daily, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through April 22, 2022. Work from this series provides a glimpse into the rich African American history of Florida's Historic Coast. Admission is free.
  • The Fort Mose Militia bring the 18th century back to life by practicing their firing drills, and by teaching new members historic weapons use and safety during this monthly Militia Muster. Visitors to the park can witness the weapons demonstrations, which include musket firings.
  • The Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center chronicles more than 450 years of St. Augustine’s black history through exhibits, arts, lectures and live performances. Feb 11- Eric Carter & Company and Feb. 26, Longineu Parsons II.
  • Local historian David Nolan will conduct a series of tours at the Accord Civil Rights Museum located in the former offices of civil rights leader, Dr. Robert Hayling. The free tours will be held on February 12, 19 & 26. RSVPs are required and should be made by emailing info@historiccoastculture.com
  • From February 18 - 26, 2022 Fort Mose State Historic Park will host the inaugural Fort Mose Jazz and Blues Series featuring some of America’s most well-known and accomplished performers including The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, Amythyst Kiah, Gregory Porter, and more. The Series includes five unforgettable performances over two weekends.
  • On February 19 Resilience Family Fest will feature cultural dance and musical performances, historical reenactments and more at the city’s Solomon Calhoun Community Center.
  • I Lived Here as Well – A Woman’s Story, 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 in February and March at Ximenez-Fatio House Museum.

The celebration of St. Augustine’s Black Heritage does not end with Black History month. Throughout the year, visitors are encouraged to visit the following important sites including the ACCORD Civil Rights Museum, ACCORD Freedom Trail, the Plaza de La Constitucion, Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park , and more.