Rabbis arrested during civil rights movement return to St. Augustine

1 rabbis

From the St. Johns County Visitors & Convention Bureau

St. Augustine, FL — The St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society and the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration are hosting a press conference on the 50th anniversary of the largest mass arrest of rabbis in the United States.

This arrest took place in St. Augustine during the civil rights movement at the Monson Motor Lodge and Restaurant where demonstrators were trying to integrate pools and lunch counters. A pray-in also took place outside the lodge and restaurant. While demonstrators were in the pool and during the mass arrest, the rabbis continued to pray.

Many of the rabbis arrested will attend the press conference. JT Johnson, who was a demonstrator in the pool and protest organizer, will also be in attendance. The press conference will begin with a reading of the letter titled “Why We Went.” This letter was written while the rabbis were jailed in St. Augustine. It will conclude with a question and answer session.

The rabbis and JT Johnson will also have an opportunity to tour the “Journey: 450 Years of the African-American Experience” exhibition, which features a copy of the letter written by the rabbis.

  • WHEN:  June 18, 2014, at 4 p.m.
  • WHERE: Visitor Information Center at 10 W. Castillo Drive in St. Augustine
  • WHO: The rabbis attending include Israel Dresner, Daniel Fogel, Jerrold Goldstein, Richard Levy, Allen Secher and Hanan Clyde T. Sills. Also in attendance will be JT Johnson, a demonstrator and protest organizer during the civil rights movement in St. Augustine.
  • WHY: This date marks the 50th anniversary of the largest mass arrest of rabbis in the United States. The press conference is an opportunity to hear the stories of the rabbis and those who took part in the civil rights movement in St. Augustine as well as their continued pursuits of civil activism.

BACKGROUND: Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in St. Augustine on June 11, 1964. This was the only place in Florida where King was arrested. While jailed in St. Augustine, King contacted his friend Rabbi Israel Dresner and the Central Conference of American Rabbis to recruit rabbis to take part in the St. Augustine civil rights movement. The rabbis arrived in St. Augustine and participated in the movement. On June 18, 1964, 16 rabbis were arrested in front of the Monson Motor Lodge and Restaurant. This brought even more national attention to the city and the civil rights movement and ultimately was the catalyst for the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

PARKING: Parking is available at the Historic Downtown Parking Facility located adjacent to the Visitor Information Center. Free parking the day of the media conference is provided at the facility to those with a press badge.

RSVP: This event is free. To reserve a space, email  jzuberer@citystaug.com or call 904.825.1053.

MORE INFO: For additional information, visit www.StAugustine-450.com  or call 904.825.1053.

About the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration

St. Augustine is America’s first city, established in 1565. It is a city built on discovery, courage and enduring spirit; it is a city built by pioneers, soldiers, artisans and entrepreneurs. Four and a half centuries later, the city and its people continue to symbolize the rich history and cultural diversity that makes St. Augustine unique. In 2014 the City of St. Augustine is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and a lengthy African-American history. Welcome to the Nation’s Oldest City, and explore our rich history.

www.facebook.com/450th,  www.twitter.com/StAugustine450 or www.staugustine-450.com.

About the St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society

The St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society seeks to promote greater understanding and knowledge of Jewish history in St. Augustine within a broad context Рfrom the possibility of Jews among those arriving in 1565 with Pedro Men̩ndez de Avil̩s through the civil rights era in the 1960s into the present.



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