On this dayJun 25, 1964

Hundreds Attack Civil Rights March in St. Augustine, Florida

Image | Associated Press

On the afternoon of June 25, 1964, over 200 white segregationists chased and violently attacked civil rights marchers in downtown St. Augustine, Florida.

In the summer of 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) leaders began a campaign to desegregate St. Augustine. Over several weeks of civil rights protests and marches, many demonstrators were arrested, including Dr. King. Meanwhile, police rarely intervened as local white people, committed to the maintenance of segregation, targeted the Black activists with violence and harassment. For the entire month of June 1964, St. Augustine had been the site of courageous civil rights protest in the face of bloody repression; the photo above documents an anti-civil rights shooting that took place in the community on June 10th. On June 20th, Florida Governor Farris Bryant, a segregationist, issued a ban on all evening demonstrations held after 8:30 p.m.

On the day of the June 25th attack, many civil rights marchers had spent the afternoon rallying at the site of St. Augustine's Slave Market Square, where enslaved Black people had once been bought and sold. When the march began, white residents gathered nearby easily evaded police and physically attacked the marchers. Committed to non-violent activism, the marchers fled to try to escape. In the end, nearly fifty marchers were injured, and fifteen were treated at the city's hospital.

Several hours before the assault on the marchers, seventy-five white segregationists had attacked a group of 100 African Americans attempting to wade into the ocean at a local "white beach." Many white Americans throughout the country opposed civil rights efforts and regularly used violence to terrorize advocates of racial equality.

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