Monday, June 16, 2014
A Choice, Not an Echo, For Echo House -- Historic Lincolnville Building Must Become Part of St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore, Not Demolished for a Parking Lot
Today's St. Augustine Record contained the alarming news that REV. RONALD RAWLS and at least one faction in St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) want to tear down Echo House for parking.
The building was transferred to the church on the representation it would be used for charitable purposes, for a school.
A parking lot is not a charitable purpose.
The City could exercise its "right of reverter" and take back the property because a parking lot is not using the property "exclusively for non-profit, charitable and philanthropic purposes," in the words of the Quitclaim Deed from Echo House, Inc. to St. Paul A.M.E. Church.
The City should exercise its "right of reverter" and take back the property.
A hearing is set for 2 PM on June 19th at 75 King Street, 1st floor. Ironically, that is "Juneteenth," when we celebrate the ending of chattel slavery. Ironically, this is the 50th anniversary of the St. Augustine Movement, including the arrest of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and sixteen rabbis -- largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history (and beating of Ambassador Andrew Young by KKK members in sight of police and Sheriff's deputies).
Dr. King, Ambassador Andrew Young, Stetson Kennedy and other civil rights heroes and heroines would be disgusted to learn of St. Paul A.M.E.'s plans.
St. Augustine residents love our history.
St. Augustine residents are disgusted at St. Paul A.M.E.'s plans.
Saint Augustine himself, an African bishop, would be disgusted at St. Paul AME's plans.
Saint Paul himself would be disgusted at St. Paul A.M.E.'s plans.
People will stand up for our African-American history against the developer-driven St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church if it requires handcuffing themselves to bulldozers and filing federal court litigation.
I first heard Jim Hightower speak in Nashville, Tennessee at a traditionally African-American college. He spoke of corporate America, and said, "They're stealing the alternatives, folks!"
Let us not let St. Paul AME destroy our history.
We deserve choice, not an echo (or a parking lot) for Echo House.
Echo House must become part of the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore. www.staugustgreen.com
Thursday's HARB hearing needs people with passion to come out and speak for preservation, in the spirit of Dr. King, Ambassador Andrew Young, sixteen rabbis, and Justice Robert Houghwout Jackson, our prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.
This meretricious demand to tear down Echo House must be DENIED.