Attending the Reading of “Why We Went”

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Members of The United Church UCC-DOC and the St. Augustine Quaker Worship Group pictured on the steps where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and 16 rabbis were arrested in 1964.  

On June 18, members of The United Church UCC-DOC and the St. Augustine Quaker Worship Group joined with others from the St. Augustine community for the annual reading of “Why We Went,” the letter written by the 16 rabbis (and one administrator) from their St. Johns County jail cell 60 years ago on June 18, 1964.   The rabbis were in St. Augustine at the invitation of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who requested their assistance during demonstrations against racial discrimination and segregation here.  The rabbis were arrested at the Monson Motor Lodge, the site of many of the demonstrations, where the Hilton Bayfront stands today on Avenida Menendez in St. Augustine.  Because the national news media covered the actions of Black St. Augustinians extensively during that time, as well as the violence that other community members visited on them as a result, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2, 1964.