By the 1960’s, Lincolnville had become a vibrant African American neighborhood. A stronghold of middle class values and commerce.
“Lincolnville was never totally segregated in terms of knitting,” said Lincolnville resident, Otis Mason. “I can recall when I was a kid on the corner of what was now King Avenue and Lincoln Street. There were a couple of grocery stores located in that immediate neighborhood that was owned and operated by a Jewish family.”
“Oh, we were a close knit family of people. Now, I had fun in Lincolnville. We were not totally segregated. White families lived in the community as well,” said Civil Rights Activist Essie Bush.
While it’s influence on the local economy grew, these advances were only going to go so far in the face of segregation.
“I could not attend the University of Florida. I went down for an interview, and it was very interesting about the results of my visit there. I was told that I spoke very well, and that’s all I heard,” said Otis Mason.
“My father was a teacher, and he was told that if he participated in the movement that he would lose his job,” said Thomas Jackson of the Fort Mose Historical Society.
During retribution, many of St. Augustine’s middle class blacks were either hesitant or silent of the growing civil rights movement. There needed to be a new front opened in the fight against segregation, and there was no better place to do it than in a city about to celebrate it’s 400th birthday.