St. Augustine remembers role it played in Civil Rights Movement

by: Erica Bennett Updated:


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Melvin Glass remembers the Civil Rights Movement like it was yesterday. He was jailed with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and endured some brutal moments.

"They stomped me. I had 2 cracked ribs. It brought tears to my eyes, because we went through a lot of hell then," he said.

Glass was one of many at the time who helped propel St. Augustine into the Civil Rights fight. 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 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.

"If we don't understand our Civil Rights past, we can't understand where we are today in terms of race relations in this country," Mike Butler said.

Butler, History Professor at Flagler College says without St. Augustine, the country wouldn't be the same.

"I think without St. Augustine, the Civil Rights Act would not have been signed into law,. The filibuster would not have ensued when it did," he continued.

All summer, events are planned to commemorate the Civil Rights Act and pay homage to pioneers of the Movement. Glass says he's pleased to see that and wants the younger generation to always remember what took place.

"Some of the kids today, they don't appreciate what they got now. They don't know what we had to go through to get this for them."