African-American history on display in oldest city

'450 Years of the African-American Experience' will be open through July


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The nation's oldest city is celebrating the 450 years since its founding with a new exhibit using photos, original documents and authentic objects to focus on African-Americans' involvement in that history.

"The exhibit is artfully done," said Connie Giataninis, one of the first to see the new exhibit. "It tells the flavor of yesterday, and it lets you understand how people have worked so hard to become one unit."

The City Commission contributed more than $240,000 to "450 Years of the African-American Experience." A Tourist Development Council grant put in $50,000 more. It took about a year from concept to Monday's opening inside the city's visitor center.

The exhibit even includes fingerprints from when Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested during a protest in St. Augustine in 1964.

"It's a part of history that we're not proud of, but it is a part of history, and we need to tell the good the bad and everything that led to things being changed," said St. Augustine Mayor Joe Boles.

One of the things you'll learn by touring the exhibit is the first free black settlement in America was at Fort Mose, in St. Augustine.

Visitors say it was a good learning experience and are thankful for the progress that's been made.

"I couldn't imagine being treated like that or being able to treat someone like that and be able to sleep at night," said a visitor who only gave his name as Johnny.

The exhibit is free for St. Johns County residents with identification, military in uniform and university and college students with ID. Ticket cost for others is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors 60 and older, $3 for children 7 to 12, and free for those 6 and younger. Tickets are available online and at the exhibition.

The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through July 15. For more information visit staugustine-450.com/journey.http://staugustine-450.com/journey

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