Kathy Catron, Communications Director for St Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau, would like to update Historic City News readers on several events planned in St Johns County during Black History Month and throughout the year.
St Augustine holds a unique place in the history of African-Americans in the United States as the location of the first legally sanctioned free African-American town in North America.
From St. Augustine’s earliest days through the turbulent 1960s, African-Americans have played key roles in the city’s history and development. This vital contribution by people of color is well-documented, but not well-known.
In 1738 in Spanish Florida, former slaves escaping their English masters founded Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, a military community, which is today known as Fort Mose.
Flight to Freedom Fort Mose
February 9, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Fort Mose Historical State Park
Unique living history event depicts the flight of slaves from the British colonies to St. Augustine’s Fort Mose where they are freed by the Spanish. There will be guided tours, food, drumming and music, authentic historic re-enactors and colonial weapons demonstrations and more. It all takes place at Fort Mose Historic State Park, located at 15 Fort Mose Trail just north of St. Augustine. Free shuttle service from the Old Jail at 167 San Marco Ave. will be provided. Admission to the park is $2 per person. 904-823-2232
The Birthplace of Freedom, Story of Fort Mose Lecture Series
February 6 and 13, 7 p.m., Flagler Room at Flagler College
In commemoration of Black History Month, and in conjunction with the annual “Flight to Freedom” heritage event at Fort Mose Historic State Park, the Fort Mose Historical Society announces the first two lectures in a series. February 6 “Fort Mose: Thirty Years of Discovery” with Dr. Jane Landers and Dr. Kathleen Deagan; February 13 “Uncertain Freedom – Africans in Spanish Florida” with Dr. Susan R. Parker and “The Odyssey of an African Slave” with Dr. Patricia C. Griffin
Battle of Bloody Mose Anniversary Commemoration
June 22, 2013, Battle of Bloody Mose Anniversary Commemoration will be held at the park. There will be an exciting reenactment of the 1740 Battle of “Bloody Mose” which forced the British to retreat from Spanish Florida.
In addition to Fort Mose, the city played other significant roles in the history of African-Americans in the country.
Freed at the end of the Civil War, former local slaves created “Little Africa”, now known as the “Lincolnville District” of St Augustine; an area listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Civil Rights demonstrations in St. Augustine during 1963 and 1964, and violent attempts to stop them, gained national and international media attention. In St. Augustine’s Plaza de la Constitucion, the St Augustine Foot Soldiers monument commemorates those citizens, black and white, who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. The intersection of King Street and St George Street, renamed “Andrew Young Crossing”, commemorates the June 9, 1964 attack on the Civil Rights leader near that location.