Civil Rights Activist Andrew Young Remembers Beating in St. Augustine | People
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A non-violent stand in the nation's oldest city may have changed the civil rights era in America.
Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young is returning to St. Augustine this weekend for a special honor.
Almost 50 years ago, Young and other activists were beaten as they attempted to march to the Plaza de la Constitucion.
It happened on June 9, 1964, just a month before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Young believes the event in St. Augustine may have changed the course of history.
"It was St. Augustine that pulled all of the history of the civil rights struggle together," Young said. "And maybe just sort of put the icing on the cake."
But Young said he never intended to lead the march.
"I went to the church to tell people that it was too dangerous," Young remembered. "Well, Jose Williams announced when I walked in the door, 'Martin Luther King has sent Andrew Young down here to lead you all through this march!'"
Despite their determination that there be no violence, Young and many others were struck.
"Somebody came up behind me and hit me with a blackjack and I didn't see him, and then somebody else clipped me across the jaw," Young said. "This is the only movement where our hospital bills were larger than our bond bills."
Soon others who have followed in Andrew Young's footsteps will be able to walk in them in St. Augustine.
The city is remembering that night with a monument and new street name, Andrew Young Crossing.
Young said this monument is a lost message to the nation.
"We have come a long way," Young said. "It has been through struggle and disagreements, through understanding and forgiving one another we've been able to get a long, long way."
The piece will be unveiled Saturday.
The intersection of King Street and St. George Street will also be renamed Saturday as "Andrew Young Crossing" in honor of his leadership that day.
Young will retrace his steps almost exactly 47 years later, walking from the Lightner Museum back to the Plaza for the dedication.
Inside the sidewalk that cuts across the city square, crews installed metal footprints to mark Young's intended path.
During the ceremony, Young will be the first to walk across the new marker.
The event will begin at the Lightner Museum at 9:45 a.m. and is open to the public.