Civil Rights Museum opens in St. Augustine

by: Erica Bennett Updated:

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. —

It's a movement that changed the country. A cause many hope lives on forever.


"It's American history. It's a part of our lives. We lived it," Judy Sorrell said.

To help commemorate the time, organizers decided to form the Civil Right Museum of St. Augustine. Everyone is welcome. After the ribbon was cut and the doors were opened for the very first time dozens flooded inside to get a look. 

"We have artifacts. We have books. It's more of an education component. Our young people need to know the history," Minister Richard Burton said.

During the 1960s St. Augustine jumped into the national spotlight. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched here, spoke here and was even arrested here. But it wasn't until a group of black teens decided to jump in the pool at the old Monson Motor Lodge that the government felt pressure to act. The manager poured acid in the water, as you can see in this iconic picture. When President Lyndon Johnson was told about the unrest, he knew something had to be done. The next day, he signed the Civil Rights Act into law, ending legal segregation. 

“A lot of people want to know about that kind of stuff. Some don't really care. I care, so I hope a lot of other people care, too," J.P. Vindas-Leyvas said.

Although the movement began decades ago, the work lives on.  

"We should never forget our history," Burton said.


The plan is to add a Phase Two to the museum and expand it within the next year or so. That of course depends on how much money can be raised, but organizers are optimistic. 

The Civil Rights Museum will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There's no admission fee, but donations are encouraged.