Tuesday, June 7, 2011
A New "Crossing" in St. Augustine
Friends including former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern and Martin Luther King III will join Andrew Young in Florida this weekend, as the nation's oldest city dedicates a new monument in his honor.
The turn of events comes about two years after Young's controversial, autobiographical documentary "Crossing in St. Augustine" reopened a "lost" chapter of Civil Rights history here and touched off a healing process that took place long ago in many other parts of the country.
Young was beaten and kicked in St. Augustine during the Civil Rights movement, while attempting to cross at the corner of King Street and St. George Street to speak with police officers while leading a non-violent march on the night of March 9, 1964.
Earlier this year, city commissioners voted unanimously to rename the intersection "Andrew Young Crossing," but in addition to putting up a new street sign, they took another step -- no pun intended.
Young's own footprints are incorporated into a spectacular monument designed by Jeremy Marquis, a 25-year-old landscape architect who admits he wasn't familiar with the Civil Rights movement in St. Augustine but became completely engrossed once he started researching it on Google.
Marquis traveled to Atlanta with St. Augustine City Manager John Regan and City Commissioner Errol Jones to ink the bottom of Young's shoes and have him walk down a long piece of paper, capturing not only his footprints but his actual gait.
Those prints were being cast in bronze, as a series of quotations from Young, President Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. were carved in blocks of granite at a company in Elberton, Georgia.
Last week, a section of existing sidewalk at main plaza in St. Augustine, not far from an historic slave market that became a symbol of white resistance during the protests, was demolished and new concrete poured for the monument, inlaid with the bronze footsteps and granite strips.
The public dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. on June 11 happens to be the 47th anniversary of Dr. King's arrest in St. Augustine, and will be the first time his son has returned to the city. As a young boy of only six years old, Martin Luther King III joined his father in Florida to take part in the demonstrations.
The events that took place in St. Augustine in 1964 are credited with passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act, which was being blocked in Congress at the time, and Sen. McGovern was among the lawmakers who voted for, and signed, the bill. He now lives part time in St. Augustine.
Young now serves on a Presidential Commission responsible for planning the St. Augustine's 450th birthday celebration in 2015, and as part of the buildup, city leaders have promised to mount a series of major events in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in 2014.
Work on the monument was completed by foreman Mark Partin and mason Dale Tedder of the Public Works Department, under the supervision of Charlene Putz, manager of the Streets & Grounds Division.