Director of Public Information Brian Thompson informed local Historic City News reporters that civil rights activist Andrew Young has donated 15 interviews from his documentary, “Crossing in St. Augustine,” to Flagler College in what will begin a new archive chronicling the civil rights movement in St. Augustine.
“Crossing in St. Augustine” documented the civil rights struggles in St. Augustine in the 1960s. The film focuses on a particular event in 1964 when Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sent Young to disband increasingly violent protests in the Nation’s Oldest City. But when Young saw the situation in St. Augustine, he decided to march alongside local residents. As Young attempted to cross a St. Augustine street while leading a peaceful march, he was brutally attacked and beaten unconscious. National attention on the situation in St. Augustine helped galvanize support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In addition to being a key strategist and negotiator for King, Young is also a former United Nations ambassador, former mayor of Atlanta and has won EMMY Awards for his many documentaries.
Young decided to donate the more than 20 hours of interviews to the college after a standing-room-only showing of the documentary here in February. He came to St. Augustine to show the film after being contacted by a Flagler student who wanted to interview him for a research paper.
Flagler Assistant Professor of History Michael Butler, who studies the civil rights era and Southern history, called Young’s gift a momentous occasion for the college.
“It’s going to be bigger than just the donation of the materials to the college,” he said. “This will be the basis for a digital civil rights archive for anyone to view the recordings to make the film.”
It was one of Butler’s students, Jillian McClure, 20, who helped build the relationship between Young and Flagler. McClure contacted Young for a paper in her Civil Rights Movement class, which led him to offer to screen the film here.
Flagler President William T. Abare Jr. said he was thrilled that Young would “bestow to us this great gift on a very important movement for the nation.”
“It is amazing how little things can lead to big things,” Abare said about how the relationship with Young developed. “This is one of the historical moments at Flagler College.”
Young said his film and the new college archive will continue to be a “healing point for the community.”
Young said he believed what took place in St. Augustine in 1964 was instrumental in moving civil rights forward. “I think it changed the history of the United States,” he said at a ceremony at Flagler where he handed over the recordings.
He then told McClure, “Thank you for getting all of this stirred up.”
The recordings will be part of the college’s Proctor Library collection, and plans are being made to make the recordings available online, as well as to grow the collection.