Budget conference: Legislature comes through with Lincolnville museum money

Lincolnville Museum
Sen. Tracie Davis, Rep. Cyndi Stevenson score a win for Black history.

Senate and House budget committees are agreeing to a $250,000 appropriation for a museum in St. Augustine, with the House request being pared down to match the Senate position.

The Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center is poised to get that quarter-million dollars in the offer sheet from the Conference Committee including the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations Committee.

The museum’s history reflects that of St. Augustine itself, a place that was a flashpoint for battles in the Civil Rights movement, and described by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as “the most lawless place he’d ever seen.”

King was in the city in 1964, as 400th-anniversary celebrations were commencing, an event he questioned federal funding for. The house where he stayed was shot up by domestic terrorists within weeks of his arrival, but he was undeterred, continuing civil disobedience such as trying to get served at a segregated restaurant and getting arrested for his trouble.

By June, a grand jury ordered King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to leave the city, saying they had breached “racial harmony.” King said that ask was “immoral,” and went on to say that St. Augustine had to “bear the cross” that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, illustrating in sharp relief the malignancy of White supremacists and the violence they embraced for their nefarious ends.

The museum is in the Excelsior School Building, which was the first public Black high school in St. Johns County in 1925 until the end of school segregation. From there, it housed government offices for a while, before nearly being demolished, then saved by former students of the same school and community members.

The $250,000 is half of what the House sponsor of the appropriations request, termed out St. Johns County Republican Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, wanted. The money will go to capital needs for the facility.

On the Senate side, the request was sponsored by Sen. Tracie Davis, a Democrat from Jacksonville.

The lobbyist of record on this project is Joe Mobley of The Fiorentino Group.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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