Confrontation Between Black Demonstrators and Segregationists at a "White Only" Beach


This photograph documents one episode in the struggle over civil rights that raged throughout the American South in the early 1960s. In the summer of 1964, national civil rights leaders hoped to push for integration of public areas in St. Augustine, Florida, including its bathing beaches. An especially violent confrontation over public access occurred on June 25, when white men attacked blacks on Butler Beach in defiance of the police, who were trying to keep the groups apart. The confrontation drew the attention of national civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as of prominent white supremacists. King and Governor Farris Bryant were among the leaders who spoke in Jacksonville at an event in support of civil rights. On the other side, segregationists such as Reverend Connie Lynch, Richard "Hoss" Mannussey, and Klansman J.B. Stoner organized segregationist rallies and marches, including a Fourth of July march by the Ku Klux Klan. Police seized a number of guns, knives, chains, and other weapons from white demonstrators. More than three hundred arrests took place in St. Augustine in June and July of 1964, resulting in an eventual truce called by white supremacist leaders. In this image, a group of male African-American demonstrators has waded into the water while a large group of whites has organized to confront them. The image captures the tenseness of the scene just before the violent clash of June 25. After police broke up the fighting, 10 whites and 10 blacks were arrested.

Last updated: October 22, 2014