The Florida Times Union

The Road Less Taken. Although Famous Men Once Marched Its Streets, St. Augustine's Freedom Trail Is Now off the Beaten Path


The Ku Klux Klan burned one to the ground. Another was torn down to make room for the Riverfront Hilton Hotel. Some folks worry that if nothing is done, the rest will be lost and/or forgotten, and wonder if that isn't what the old guard in St. Augustine would prefer.

The 40th Anniversary to Commemorate the Civil Rights Demonstrations (ACCORD) is working to make sure that doesn't happen. ACCORD is trying to mark and preserve the city's historic civil rights landmarks, an effort the group calls "The Freedom Trail."

The people at ACCORD are dedicated to remembering and honoring the men and women who risked their lives battling for civil rights, and celebrating St. Augustine's role in the struggles that lead to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This summer, thanks to a grant from Northrop Grumman, they placed 10 placards along the Freedom Trail. Another 40 sites await markers.

According to ACCORD President Gwendolyn Duncan, the group's hope is that one day the city of St. Augustine will promote its civil rights history just as it promotes its earlier history. She says the city has been slow to embrace its segregationist past and the prominent role it played in the civil rights struggle, and says there are "old timers" in the city who are only interested in promoting it as a squeaky clean tourist destination. …

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