A second Civil Rights museum may be in the works

JEREMY MARQUISMonday night, the City of St Augustine Commission will be asked to formally “support” the New World Center for Civil Rights and Social Change by adopting a resolution that has left some residents wondering what “support” the private organization is expecting.

Jeremy Marquis stood before the commission, almost a year ago to the day, to receive a Certificate of Appreciation for his “volunteer contributions” and work on the Andrew Young Crossing Monument. Marquis donated his design work; however, the City of St Augustine paid the cost of producing and installing the monument.

Marquis will be joined by Marsha Holmes; reportedly the chairperson of a newly formed “St Augustine New World Center Foundation Inc.” According to the Secretary of State website, as of this article, no record of the corporation could be found.

Holmes and Marquis will make a ten-minute presentation, which includes design and supporting documents that outline the mission of the organization — to tell the civil rights and social change story of the African American settlers from their arrival in the 1500’s to the present.

Ironically, last year, when he first started the monument project, Marquis admitted to the City Commission that he “didn’t know who Andrew Young was”. Now, Young and other dignitaries, including J.T. Johnson, also of Atlanta, men who accompanied Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to St Augustine and participated in the 1964 civil rights demonstrations, say they are working together to establish the New World Center for Civil Rights and Social Change locally.

The greatest stakeholder may well be the Catholic Diocese of St Augustine, who owns the St Benedict Schoolhouse property — the epicenter of the New World Center for Civil Rights and Social Change. The Diocese, including Cathedral Parish and the St Benedict Schoolhouse Restoration Committee, has been working towards this goal for the last 20 years.

Timing has played a part in some of the confusion and questions being raised. On June 7, 2010, Mayor Joseph L. Boles, Jr., became, and remains, the registered agent for the properly registered non-profit organization, Civil Rights Museum of St Augustine, Inc.

Only 30 days ago, Historic City News reporters attended as officers and members of that organization, held a press conference at the Casa Monica Hotel to announce that they had reached an agreement to utilize the former dental office of Dr. Robert B. Hayling as the “transitional museum site” for their own Civil Rights interpretive center.

According to the annual report of Civil Rights Museum of St Augustine, Inc., on file with the Secretary of State, Richard P. Burton, Sr. serves as President, and directors include Dr. Robert B. Hayling Civil Rights Activist, Dr. Priscilla Duncan Director of Fundraising, Historian David Nolan, Ann Breidenstein, and, again, J.T. Johnson.

The apparent overlapping missions may be clarified Monday evening; however, it does not appear that the two entities are interrelated. The resolution language presented to Historic City News for the St Augustine New World Center Foundation Inc., presentation, does not yet make any request for funding.

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