Lincolnville Museum highlights the rich history of the Black experience in St. Augustine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – “The Road to Black History Runs Through Lincolnville” -- that’s the first thing you’ll see on the webpage for the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center.

The African American history museum is in St. Augustine and boasts a mission of preserving and promoting more than 450 years of the Black experience in America’s oldest city.

Regina Gayle Phillips is the executive director of the museum.

“That’s a part of the historic character of this building. It was the Excelsior High School, which was the first high school for Blacks in St. John’s County built back in the 1920s,” Phillips said.

The museum radiates life, and the stories you may or may not have heard about this corner of St. Augustine.

“For people who don’t know what Lincolnville is, it was an area that was started after the Civil War, where you had U.S. Colored Troops returning to St. Augustine,” Phillips said.

The Lincolnville Museum starts with school history and has a room dedicated to the military.

“And that’s really one of my favorite photos here in the military section because it shows these guys sitting down just having a beer together. And that was something that they couldn’t have done, that’s not allowed, you know? And it would have still been very difficult to do at home,” she said.

There are artifacts and things from actual homes in Lincolnville during it’s heyday.

The final stops on News4Jax’s journey through the museum included the rhythm of entertainment -- the enjoyment of seeing the local connection to icons like Ray Charles.

”He learned how to read Braille here. He learned how to read music here,” Phillips said.

There are, however, images that mix the pain with the pride of persistence. An attack on Black protestors in the pool at the Monson Motor Lodge. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., arrested in 1964.

Success is part of the story, but it didn’t come without struggle.

“If you talk to a lot of people who were here during the 60s, they will tell you that St. Augustine was pivotal in the signing of the civil rights bill,” Phillips said. ”I like to tell people civil rights movement didn’t start in the 1960s. It didn’t end in the 1960s. I mean, it still goes on to this day.”

LINK: Lincolnville Museum & Cultural Center

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