Racial Change and Community Crisis: St. Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980

Racial Change and Community Crisis: St. Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980

Racial Change and Community Crisis: St. Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980

Racial Change and Community Crisis: St. Augustine, Florida, 1877-1980

Excerpt

With the collapse of Reconstruction in 1877, the South gradually began to construct a new system of race relations which would insure the dominance of whites and the subservience of blacks. St. Augustine, Florida, the nation's oldest city, was no exception in this regard. Employing a variety of mechanisms including the law, social custom, and violence, by 1900 it restricted black residents to a second-class status, where they remained until the 1960s.

This book examines the evolution of race relations in St. Augustine from the post-Reconstruction period to the present. It shows how racial patterns developed during the Jim Crow period and how these patterns were gradually realigned by the Brown decision in 1954 and especially by St. Augustine's civil rights crisis in 1963 and 1964.

St. Augustine became a landmark in the civil rights era when the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference selected it as a target city in 1964. Though a civil rights movement had been underway in this historic city for nearly a year before King's arrival, it had gone largely unnoticed in the national press, and no progress had been made toward desegregating the community. King's mere presence changed all that, insuring that St. Augustine would become a major area of civil rights activity and media attention. The civil rights campaign in St. Augustine thus had significance not only for Florida, but for the South and the nation as well.

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