“Reflections on MLK” – Retired Trooper recounts King experience

Posted on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the Times was granted permission to use this first-hand story, as told by a Florida State Trooper who had the opportunity to work security for Dr. King during a trip to Florida.

“Reflections on MLK”

by Howard Collins

“Martin Luther King Day” last Monday brought to mind a personal experience with Dr. King while I was a Florida State Trooper, and I would like to share it with you.

It was in the spring of 1964 when civil rights demonstrations began in St. Augustine, Fla. It was apparent that national organizations had selected St. Augustine as a “target city” for racial demonstrations.

Martin Luther King came to St. Augustine to organize efforts to integrate the beaches and focus national and world attention upon the oldest city in the New World.

As a means of demonstration, a large number of African Americans marched through the downtown area at night. Reacting to this, a large group of Caucasians gathered downtown where the situation became very tense.

Gov. Bryant ordered a contingent of State Troopers to St. Augustine to assist the local police. Mobs were meeting in open conflict and shots were being fired into homes and automobiles.

On June 9, more trouble developed as over 200 integrationists, (both black and white) marched through downtown and were met by an opposing group of segregationists. Violence broke out again causing many injuries. Shortly after that, additional troopers were sent to St. Augustine.

Night demonstrations continued, numbering 200 to 400 black marchers and as many as 1,000 people gathered, 150 of which attempted to attack
the blacks.

 

For the rest of Mr. Collins’ story, grab the Sept. 4 edition of the Bowling Green Times or subscribe to the online edition on our homepage!

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