$10,000 may be price-tag of Young memorial

With both the mayor and vice-mayor absent, Historic City News observed as acting chairman Errol Jones advanced a motion authorizing the City Manager to move ahead with plans to install a memorial to Andrew Young and to spend up to $10,000 to do it.

In a presentation scheduled late in the agenda, Jeremy Marquis, a principal in Halback Design Group, Inc., ran through a slideshow relevant to the proposed Andrew Young Crossing Monument design.

“What” asked Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline? Even though she supports the installation of a monument to acknowledge the civil rights leader, Sikes-Kline backed off saying that she was “left flat” by the proposed monument’s wording.

“In my mind, I thought I was approving something like a bronze marker,” Sikes-Kline said after watching the presentation. “This is much more elaborate than I had in mind.”

When the discussion came around to cost, Jones defended his motion as well as the scale of the proposed memorial; suggesting that the City has never properly made apologies or reparations for the conditions imposed on those living in St. Augustine at the time.

Commissioner Bill Leary suggested that no action be taken at the moment until thought could be given to organizing a private fundraising plan, “for all, or, part of the cost.”

Regan replied to Leary’s suggestion with an observation that if the City doesn’t fund the project, “we have to go into fundraising mode.” Regan explained that quarry and foundry lead-times dictated that the funding method be established before staff goes much further — if it was their intention to make all projected deadlines. “This marker can be build with city forces,” Regan tried to reassure commissioners. “It won’t actually cost $10,000.”

“We have a lot of things going on,” Jones said, “as part of the 2014 commemoration of the passage of the Civil Rights Act.” Jones went on to say, “We owe this to our citizens.” Jones didn’t comment on the implied list of activities other than to mention the dedication of a memorial in the Plaza recognizing the Foot Soldiers.

Jones clearly objected to asking people for money to pay for a memorial that costs “little of what they gave,” referring to those actually involved in the Civil Rights movement. “If one person gives more money than the other,” Jones predicted, “they will want their name to be larger”.

Sikes-Kline said, “I respectfully decline to have my name on the marker.” Leary said that he felt it wasn’t appropriate for the mayor and commissioners to have their names on the memorial, Jones quickly agreed, declaring, “No names”.

Sikes-Kline was obviously uncomfortable with where Jones’ yet-un-seconded motion was headed. As if bewildered by the entire presentation, Sikes-Kline began to prattle on, “The ending leaves me flat, I don’t understand the steps going to nowhere, I’m equally shocked at the price, this has rapidly gotten to $10,000.”

Regan asked, “Well, what was the intention of the commission when you approved it?”

Jones jumped in with a point of order — asking if he could close further discussion on the motion and call for a vote; which he did. Leary went along with Jones; splitting a vote which approved authorization of up to $10,000 for the work.

Sikes-Kline tried to add additional comments after the vote — and was cut off by Jones, so she saved her remarks for the end of the meeting.

For the record: From the minutes of the City Clerk:

Regular City Commission Meeting January 24, 2011
Items by Mayor and Commissioners
Mayor Boles requested that the Commission approve naming the King Street and St. George Street intersection, Andrew Young Crossing. There was a consensus by the Commission to honor Mayor Boles’ request.

Regular City Commission Meeting February 14, 2011
Discussion relevant to the location of the proposed Andrew Young Crossing Marker
Dana Ste. Claire, Director, Heritage Tourism, stated that a proof was currently being developed, and checked for historical accuracy. He stated that the original crossing was site specific, and he felt that the most appropriate place would be the southwest corner of the Constitution Plaza entranceway. He reviewed examples of markers throughout the city. He stated that a suggestion had been made to create a marble plaque to be inlaid in the sidewalk. Mayor Boles felt that an inlaid plaque would be symbolic. He suggested inviting Mr. Young to the marker installation.

Andrew Young was attacked on the corner of St. George Street and King Street on June 9, 1964, during what was supposed to be a peaceful protest. Civil Rights activists, including Young, had come to St. Augustine from around the country to call attention to the inequality shown Americans who were segregated by race; hoping to break the congressional filibuster Young believed would be the end of the Civil Rights Act.

Marquis admitted to the commission that he “didn’t know who Andrew Young was”, saying that his generation and those to follow might not know the significance of the King and St. George Street intersection or Andrew Young’s participation, were it not for the proposed marker. Marquis said that as he watched and studied Pastor Young’s video, “Crossing in St. Augustine” and that he came away with a sense of need to memorialize the events.

The Halback Group is providing design suggestions without cost to the City, according to City Manager John Regan.

Regan defended Marquis suggestion that the cost estimate for the proposed marker might be $10,000, but, Regan told commissioners that he intended to use city workers to do some of the work that Marquis had included in his estimates.

The proposed six-foot wide, 25-foot long section of paved walkway to be placed in the southwest corner of the Plaza de la Constitución includes bronze footsteps suggesting Young’s path when attacked during the 1964 Civil Rights Movement, with his quotes along the path under the headings Justice, Non-Violence, Equality, and Freedom.

From the presentation:

Andrew Young Crossing
Commemorating the June 9, 1964 march for Civil Rights to the Plaza and the courageous leadership of Andrew Young and the people of St. Augustine
ANDREW JACKSON YOUNG, JR. – UN Ambassador – Senior Aide to Martin Luther King, Jr., Southern Christian Leadership Conference – Pastor – United States Congressman, Georgia – Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia – American

“This is your story, as much, if not more, than it is my story.”

“St. Augustine was probably the most rigorous test that non-violence had. And we passed it…”

“…If we had not passed [the test], we could have lost the Civil Rights Act.”

“I’ve been to the mountaintop…[and] we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

Dedicated June 4, 2011 by the City Commission, on behalf of the citizens of St. Augustine
Joseph L. Boles, Mayor – Leanna Freeman, Vice Mayor –
Errol D. Jones, Commissioner – Nancy Sikes-Kline, Commissioner –
William “Bill” Leary, Commissioner

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News; contributed photographs from City of St. Augustine and images presented by Jeremy Marquis, Halback Design Group

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