This Week in Jacksonville: Business Edition – A new way to tour Black history in St. Augustine

The timing couldn’t be better for a new Black History Tour app in St. Augustine. The new innovative tool created by Visit St. Augustine launches during Black History Month.

“I think it’s a tremendous boost to Black history in St. Augustine in terms of not just being able to look it up on the website, but it’s actually directional,” Gayle Phillips, who is the Executive Director of the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, said. “So, if somebody is actually there, they’ll tell you, you got another site a half a mile down the road or 200 steps away.”

Dr. Leslee Keyes taught at Flagler College and is a historic research and preservation expert. She said the timing of the app’s launch came at the right time given all of the anniversaries being celebrated.

“I think the timing on this is perfect in that 2024 is the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, which was our last major chapter to participate in,” Keyes said.“But it also reflects a series of other anniversaries. The Castillo’s 100 years ago became a national monument. It helps us take the Black history back to 1513 because we had free and enslaved Africans here when Ponce de Leon came. We had some with Pedro Menendez in 1565. So our history goes longer, deeper, broader than anywhere else.”

MORE: New app lets you immerse yourself in St. Augustine’s rich Black history

Visit St. Augustine unveiled the new app the first week of February and calls it “putting history in the palm of your hand.” The application is free both in the Google Play Store and on the Apple App Store.

Cheyenne Koth Leahy is one of the writers of the new app and oozes excitement about the new app.

“The app has a backbone of a timeline of events, and these events appear on people’s historic person profiles and historical place profiles that are related to St, Augustine’s Black history. All of those pieces of content, the place profiles, the person profiles and the people profiles come together in the topic pages,” Leahy said.

Leahy described the topic page and gave an example of military history.

“You would see the Castillo de San Marcos. Of course, you might see Francisco Menendez, who was the leader of Fort Mose down in Saint Augustine. And you’re able to click on these profiles and click on the Castillo and see their timeline,” Leahy said. “You can see the people who are involved in the Black history of the Castillo. And it’s a very interconnected digital resource for St. Augustine’s history that somebody could enjoy.”

There are websites where anyone can learn about Black History in St. Augustine, but Henry Hird III (owner of and creator of the app) believes the app will expand the availability of information to a greater extent.

“The thing that I think that’s better than the website is the opportunity to – when you go to a place and you can see about the people that were there and there might be somebody there that you want to follow. And then when you do that, it shows the events that they were involved in, and then you’re learning more about other people at the event.

Hird, Phillips, Leahy and Keyes join Kent Justice for an engaging conversation on our podcast, This Week in Jacksonville: Business Edition.

You can visit the St. Augustine Black History App website for more information.

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