ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Black history is American History.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go far to learn about the stories and contributions of Black people in our area.
Action News Jax Courtney Cole takes us to St. Augustine where you can learn about more than 450 years of African-American history.
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“Lincolnville, as a community started after the Civil War, back in 1866,” said Regina Gayle Phillips, she’s the Executive Director of the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center in St. Augustine.
Phillips continued by telling Cole the Lincolnville Community in St. Augustine was first settled by Black U.S. troops and their families.
Now 155 years later, Phillips, is working to preserve and promote the rich history of African-Americans in the Ancient City.
As you walk through the museum, one of the first things you’ll see is a timeline that lays out 150 years of history of Lincolnville.
It gives people sneak-peeks of what they’ll learn about in more detail, as they make their way through during a visit.
You’ll learn about everything from the Jim Crow Era, to booming black businesses, the vital role churches played for Black people in St. Augustine, and the work and events that happened locally related to the Civil Rights Movement
“I love when I get comments like, ‘I didn’t know that!’ So I want them to walk away with at least some morsel of information that they did not know before,” Phillips told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.
Morsels of history like the story of Frank Butler, one of St. Augustine’s most successful Black businessmen.
He opened Butler Beach in 1927, one of the resorts Black people could enjoy.
Butler also owned the Palace Market Grocery Store.
“He was a little ahead of his time, he offered script. That’s what this thing is. This is like, just like when we used to have green stamps or tokens that you get at the grocery store— he offered these. It’s like an early bitcoin that they were actually using, where you could collect them and you could take it back and spend it in the store,” Phillips explained.
The Museum is a non-profit charity and has a very limited staff.
That includes Mrs. Phillips and a small team of interns.
In order to make sure this place can remain open, a lot of Phillips’ time is spent writing grants.
“We may be one of the only museums of this size, in the state of Florida, that is not supported by either state or local government,” Phillips said.
The museum has two grants currently – one from the Institute of Museum and Library Services – and one from the National Park Service, for building renovation.
“Last year, we were fortunate enough to get approved by the [state] legislature for $750,000, which we thought, wow this is awesome! You know? We’re going places,” Phillips told Action News Jax.
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Phillips told Cole they made it to final round of approvals, but did not get the final signature.
“We’re just hopeful that this time we’ll be able to do it, so that the museum doesn’t stop with us,” said Phillips.
A museum focused on the positive contributions in the nation’s oldest city.
Click here for hours and to learn how you can show your support for the museum.
Cox Media Group