A digital copy of Martin Luther King Jr.'s fingerprint card from his St. Augustine arrest in 1964 is part of the Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine.
Aug. 26, 2013
It was March 31, 1964 that a group of more than 100 students from the all-black Richard J. Murray High School marched to downtown St. Augustine and sat-in at the dining hall of the Hotel Ponce de Leon. After being greeted by police, the group was arrested marking the first sit-in of the civil rights movement in the Nation’s Oldest City.
Now, nearly a half century later, Flagler College will introduce the Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine, an Internet-based multimedia archive documenting the St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement, in the very same room.
To visit the site, go to http://civilrightslibrary.com
The student-led project will be unveiled in a special ceremony from 4-7 p.m. on Sept. 18 in the Hotel Ponce de Leon Dining Hall, 74 King St. Guests can interact with the online database, ask questions of the students, faculty and staff who worked on the project, listen to speakers both from the College and the community beginning at 5:30 p.m., as well as enjoy light refreshments.
“The students have identified a variety of archival material that certainly I didn’t know existed and that when organized the right way adds layers of understanding to this whole series of events,” said documentarian CB Hackworth, who oversaw the project. “I don’t know if anyone has done this sort of approach, but when you add this chronology and compare to things that were happening in Florida and across the nation, you can really see the cause and effect of the events in a larger scale.”
For Micajah Henley, who graduated in April of 2013, the chance to work on the project was life changing.
“This site is going to do something that history books and even documentaries cannot do. It is going to tell the story using a scope that has been either neglected or forgotten altogether,” said Henley, who is now studying for his Masters degree at the University of Mississippi. “I honestly believe that this will be the most important source for research on the St. Augustine Movement.”
Hackworth said some of the highlights of the database include the FBI files detailing Martin Luther King Jr.’s time in St. Augustine as well as the surveillance the city was under both before and after MLK arrived. Other items include details on the arrest of the St. Augustine Four, audio of Jackie Robinson’s visit to St. Augustine as well as the archives of civil rights leader Andrew Young.
Hackworth said the project is unlike anything he’s ever worked on, and he called it an interactive documentary that doesn’t hold you hostage to the ideas of the filmmaker. He credits all of this to the students.
“It would be very difficult for an independent researcher to do this on his own. But with these students, they come up with new ideas, have no issues contacting or interviewing anyone. They’re a real treasure,” he said. “All the students I’ve worked with on this project are amazingly talented people and that’s a testament to the kind of student that Flagler attracts.”
For more information on the event, please contact Assistant Director of College Relations Holly Hill at 904-819-6282 or HHill@flagler.edu.