Byline: KEN LEWIS, The Times-Union
ST. AUGUSTINE -- Stories from a black alligator wrestler, a segregationist mayor, a victim of the Ku Klux Klan, a sheriff's daughter and civil rights activists from St. Augustine and beyond will be woven into a film that a former journalist hopes will outlast his death.
Clennon King's Slave Market Diary will be shown tonight in the Flagler College auditorium in St. Augustine.
The film tells the tales of activists, said Gwendolyn Duncan, president of St. Augustine's 40th Anniversary to Commemorate the Civil Rights Demonstrations, a commemoration group commonly called 40th ACCORD. The event will last from 5 to 9 p.m. and include other entertainment.
"Those brave and courageous souls attended the rallies, marched, wade-in, sat-in and prayed-in, risking their lives and limbs in pursuit of basic human rights," Duncan said. "The stand that these brave souls made changed our city, our state, our nation as well as the world. Although St. Augustine's past is not pretty, it is our history and the stories must be told and documented for future generations to know and hopefully, never ever repeat it."
King is a Georgia native and former journalist with First Coast News in Jacksonville. He devoted more than three years to this project, sleeping in a bus station, traveling the country and filming about 75 hours of interviews. Still in the editing process two days before opening night, he described the work as a first-person diary of the events that brought him to the civil rights "holy ground" of St. Augustine.
"This town that deals in history is very selective in its memory of history," King said. "St. Augustine doesn't want to talk about this. Yet so many people who were part of the movement want to talk about it. And those were the people I interviewed."
Forty years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the local turmoil that preceded it, activists are dying, King said. He wanted to capture their voices while he could.
"This is probably my toughest story because this is living history," King said. "This is a lot of people who have lived through a tough time, and they'll be the judges. …