The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a group of destinations significant to the fight for civil rights in America, mapped out so visitors can easily plan trips to pay respects. More than 100 sites in 15 states are included but until this week, none in Florida. That changed today, when tourism bureau Visit Florida announced that five places in Florida have joined the trail.
The five Florida sites now featured on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail are the Bay County Courthouse in Panama City, the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park & Museum in Mims, Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, the National Historic Preservation District in St. Augustine and the Newtown African American Heritage Trail in Sarasota.
It's worth doing some reading of your own about these places, as the descriptions listed on the Visit Florida site (quoted below) are so carefully inoffensive that it's hard to tell why they're even significant. For instance, the St. Augustine location, No. 4 on the list below; you can see the tourist board description below, but here's the real story:
On June 11, 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and jailed overnight for attempting to enter the restaurant at the Monson Motor Lodge in St. Augustine. After a week of protest, activists – some black, some white – jumped into the whites-only pool at the motel. The motel owner responded by pouring muriatic acid into the still-occupied water, photos of which were spread around the world. The Senate passed the Civil Rights Act the day after the jump-in, June 19, 1964.
No shade intended. We know Visit Florida has to keep it neutral, though this seems a bit extreme, if you can call neutrality extreme. Regardless, it's a big coup to have these five locations added to the Civil Rights Trail, and all of them are more than worthy of your time and attention.
- 1. The Bay County Courthouse commemorates the Gideon v. Wainwright case that granted defendants the right to counsel in criminal trials.
- 2. The Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park & Museum honors Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore, activists and educators who established the first branch of the NAACP in Brevard County and later established the NAACP Florida State Conference in their fight for racial justice and equality for black citizens in the State of Florida.
- 3. Historic Dodgertown, opened in 1948, was the first fully integrated Major League Baseball spring training site in the South and is the only sports affiliation on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.
- 4. The National Historic Preservation District in St. Augustine includes historic markers and locations where numerous peaceful marches were organized in protest of racial segregation.
- 5. The Newtown African American Heritage Trail documents the 100-year history of a community and celebrates civil rights activists who organized car caravans and traveled a special route to local beaches for wade-ins to protest segregation.
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