The church was the spiritual home of Martin Luther King’s grandparents, Celia and James King. According to the church’s website, the church was founded in 1856. There’s a sign in the cemetery that gives the date if 1853, so I am gathering the cemetery predates the church. Either way, this is an early date for a Black church to be in existence.
This home in the Lincolnville area of St. Augustine houses can tell the stories of segregation and civil rights. After Brown vs. Board of Education, Southern states did whatever they could to maintain segregation. In Florida, the Fabisinski Committee was led by Judge L. L. Fabisinski, who grew up in the house. They made recommendations to the governor on how to maintain segregation without “officially” breaking federal laws.
In 1964, this became the home of Dr. Robert Hayling. A successful dentist, he was considered the main organizer of the St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement.
San Sebastian and Pinehurst Cemeteries are located in West St. Augustine on Pearl Street. The two cemeteries are next to each other and are stated to be among the oldest Black cemeteries in the state of Florida. There is conflicting information on whether the cemeteries began before or after the Civil War.
The cemeteries contain a mixture of commercial and vernacular headstones, along with military ones. Additionally, there are mementos left on many graves. Everything from conch shells to dolls is scattered throughout.
There is no truth that carved chains on a headstone mean someone is born into slavery. Most chains represent the fraternal organization Fraternal Order of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows. They are frequently joined with the letters “ F L T,” which stands for “Friendship, Love, Truth.”
I read several journal articles about the documentation of slave and Black cemeteries, and there was no mention that markers with chains meant someone was born into slavery. What is consistently mentioned are broken dish ware, clocks, shells, and different plants.
A circle of chains, broken or unbroken, can represent death or hope respectively.
This cemetery shared two borders with the all-white cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery.
Built in 1909, the Odessadale School sits next to the Mount Hebron Missionary Baptist Church. The school is the oldest school dedicated to educating Black schoolchildren standing in Meriwether County. It was open until 1955 when Georgia schools began to consolidate.
Also known as the Odessadale Elementary School, there is a focus to restore the school. More information can be found on the preservation committee’s Facebook page.
Booker T. Washington was an educator, speaker, author, and benefactor. He was the first president of Tuskegee University when it was known as Tuskegee Institute. His accomplishments are numerous. From working with Julius Rosenwald to start the fund for Rosenwald schools to traveling the world to speak on issues that impacted the Black community, Washington was a tireless advocate for change. Many members of the Black community supported his belief that the focus should be on education and wealth accumulation. Whereas there were those, who disagreed with him and felt that he bowed to white interests by not pushing forward an agenda based on civil rights and political representation.
“The Oaks” is a large Victorian that sits next to campus. Tuskegee’s students helped build the home that Washington and his family moved into in 1900.
In 1915, Booker T. Washington passed away. It was believed that he died from congestive heart failure and kidney disease that was caused by the stress of his work (later examination of his medical records indicated that he was suffering from very high blood pressure). Over 8,000 people attended his funeral. He is buried in the campus’s cemetery, which is next to the Chapel.