By Justin Katz | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Sarah Williamson
From the arrest of Martin Luther King Jr. to protests by Richard Murray High School students in the Ponce de Leon Hotel, St. Augustine is rich with history concerning the Civil Rights Movement.
Now a new online archive at Flagler College will feature information about the history of the movement, including documents, oral histories from key civil rights figures and a visual map showing a timeline of St. Augustine’s sit ins, protests and marches.
The multimedia Civil Rights Archive, produced by students and faculty at Flagler College, will be unveiled Wednesday, Sept. 18, in the dining hall.
“The people who saw [the movement] are dying,” said Andrew Kustodowicz, a Flagler College senior. “I feel like without this project, the St. Augustine movement could have been swept under the rug.”
Kustodowicz, a history major, was one of many students involved in the project. His role has been to recover and scan historical documents, including a large pile of FBI files.
Notable documents he has seen include a questionnaire from a local restaurant that posed questions such as “Will you eat here if we integrate?”
The archive has been more than just a school project for Kustodowicz.
“First and foremost, it’s a tremendous honor. I can’t stress that enough,” said Kustodowicz. “Working on this project has been one of the defining moments of my college career and probably my life.”
History students aren’t the only ones involved in the project. The archive is one of the first major inter-disciplinary projects that the college has hosted.
A Personal Matter
Brittany Riley, a sociology student, has been involved since the beginning. Her role has been looking through and digitizing newspaper articles of the time period. Riley’s reasons for entering the project are personal – her family was involved in the white side of the movement.
This project has been an opportunity for her to explore how and why people of the time thought the way they did.
“Some people had very logical reasons for being against it [the movement],” Riley said. “This is how people lived, and they used to pride themselves on the fact that there wasn’t a lot of conflict until outsiders arrived.”
Kustodowicz and Riley are only two of the several students being supervised by CB Hackworth, a journalist and documentarian.
Hackworth was asked to oversee the project, partly due to his work on “Crossing in St. Augustine,” a documentary he worked on with Ambassador Andrew Young, a key civil rights activist who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. “Crossing” chronicled Young’s visit to St. Augustine in 1964 where he was beaten during a protest march. Young, who will speak at 7 p.m. at the Sept. 19 unveiling, donated footage for the film to the college to begin the archive.
Hackworth has been the overall coordinator of the project and is the professor of the related course.
“I’ve tried to facilitate the energies of students from several different disciplines: from design, communications, history and sociology to work together as a team,” said Hackworth.
But what interests him most is being able to see this history through the eyes of his students.
“Students are not burdened by that time period, of the memories of the Civil Rights Movement. It’s fascinating to me to see young people who are unfamiliar with it, who don’t know much about it beyond the basics,” Hackworth said. “The interest sparked right away and the amazement that the world could be as different as it was from the world today.”
The Road Ahead
Although the past year of work has been thrilling for Hackworth to be a part of, he is more focused on the future.
“I really hope it [the archive] will become the state’s premier repository for digitized information,
documents, oral histories and video interviews related to race and civil rights in Florida.”
While Hackworth has played a major role in the construction of the archive,
many others have contributed to make the launch successful.
Michael Gallen, the director of Proctor Library, was originally tasked with the goal of creating the archive. He quickly brought on Blake Pridgen, the web services librarian, to assist him.
“I consider it the best work I’ve done professionally,” said Pridgen.
Niether Gallen nor Pridgen could foresee what this project could become, until now.
“It allowed us to meet some of the important figures of the Movement, and that was an opportunity we would not have had without it,” Gallen said. “To be a close observer of history has made us aware of the entire Civil Rights Movement. As a result, we’ve started and are continuing to build a much stronger collection of civil rights and African American material.”
Kustodowicz and the rest of the students and faculty involved are anxious to unveil their project to the public on Wednesday.
“We are unraveling an untold chapter of American history, and a rapidly unknown portion of St. Augustine,” said Kustodowicz.