Monday, February 16, 2009

St. Augustine Record Editoria: City's black history finally 'official'

City's black history finally 'official'

St. Augustine's black history is part of the official city of St. Augustine Tour Guide Handbook. Finally.

Two years ago, The Record challenged the city to update its tour guide book and test which, though revised in 2002, ignored its impressive black history.

There was no mention of:

* Fort Mose de Gracia de Santa Teresa, the first free black settlement in what is now the United States, now a state park.

* Lincolnville, the city's oldest black business and residential section established after the Civil War by former black slaves.

* The role of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in the city's civil rights era and his arrest at the Monson Motor Lodge Restaurant in June 1964.

In the revised handbook, which is being reviewed by city officials before going on sale next week, black history is well covered, with one exception. In the references to King, his arrest is left out.

Bill Adams, the city's director of heritage tourism, is a respected historian and author nationally and internationally. He spent the better part of two years working on the revisions and the rewriting of the handbook.

He's researching the details of King's arrest to be as accurate as possible. We expect it will be added before the new handbook goes on sale.

Years ago the city developed the handbook and required test for tour guides who wanted a license to give paid-for-hire tours. It was in response to complaints from visitors and residents who said just about every tour guide told their own "story" of the city's history.

In 2013-2015 St. Augustine will celebrate its 450th anniversary. Black history will be part of the heritage we celebrate. It is important to ensure tour guides have the most accurate information possible.

Perhaps, school teachers, will find it a worthy supplement to their Florida history texts, too.

Above all, St. Augustine's black history is finally getting recognized as part of our city's official history.

1 comment:

Roger G Jolley said...

Ben Adams is no more than a renown scam-artist, master of the State Historic Preservation flim-flam and slight of hand.

Writing as Chairman of the State's Historic Preservation Board in 1984, he initiated the city's long term assault on street musicians civil rights alerting then City Manager Gladstone of the deluge of musicians soon to swarm behind the lone fiddle player then performing on the newly paved pedestrian St. George Street.

Adam's letter is in the city minutes. He asked Gladstone for a solution to prevent this one, lone fiddle-player from remaining, before the little free-speechers multiplied like roaches.

The city used his language from his letter in the resulting occupation license ordinance of 1984 and later in the 1995 ordinance ruled unconstitutional on its face and as applied by Judge Richard Watson March 1996.

Now, he's re-writing History, white-washing a shameful past to suit his masters. There is no way this guy is a historian.

It takes integrity and intellect to be a historian, and peer review by real professionals would prevent the kind of intellectual abuse foisted on the public by this clown and his Master, his secret string-puller, putting the city managers words into his puppet's mouth.