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St. Augustine displays new African-American history exhibit

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Updated: 1/20 11:19 am
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- St. Augustine is celebrating 450 years of African-American history. A new exhibit is now on display inside of the city's welcome center.

It's 450 years of amazing history-- that's how Barbara Vickers describes the new African-American exhibit in St. Augustine.

"It's mind boggling. It just blew my mind to be able to see all of these things that went on in history," said Vickers.

Vickers, 90, was born and raised in St. Augustine. She said she lived through the difficult times that are posted on the walls and displayed throughout the exhibit.

"I remember days when I would have to get off the sidewalk to let white people pass," said Vickers.

But she said Martin Luther King's dream made everyone come together. She said she met King when he came to St. Augustine in 1964.

"He took time to shake everybody's hand," Vickers said.

James Bullock said the exhibit tells the story of black struggles.

"This is the history that we made together, and this is the opportunity to celebrate it and commemorate it," said Bullock.

Dana Ste. Claire, director of the 450 Years Commemoration, said "The character of St. Augustine is defined by its cultural diversity and that's how we started 450 years ago."

It's the same character that Vickers said still shines today.

Vickers said the exhibit is just one way to display history, but it'll be left up to the younger generation to keep it going.

"The progress that we've made in this short length of time is remarkable, I just hope that the young people will take the baton and move on," said Vickers.

The exhibit officially opens Monday on Martin Luther King Day.

The city commission contributed more than $240,000 for the exhibit. The Tourist Development Council's grant also put in more than $50,000.

The exhibit is free for all St. Johns County residents with identification.
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