Historic Markers Across Florida

222 Riberia Street

Marker ID: AFT 
Location: 222 Riberia Street, St. Augustine, FL
County: St. Johns
Coordinates: N 29° 53.048    W 081° 18.966
  29.88413333    -81.3161
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMGAJK


Bethel Baptist Church was founded in 1939 by Rev. William Banks, the former pastor of St. Mary's Baptist Church on Washington Street, and other members from that congregation. Land was acquired on Riberia Street, and the church building constructed in 1943. From its earliest years, the picturesque church, with its distinctive coquina shell-dash stucco finish, has attracted the attention of artists. It became famous around the country through its appearance in many paintings.

In 1963, the church provided meeting space for the NAACP Youth Council, advised by Dr. Robert B. Hayling and Rev. Goldie Eubanks, Sr. which picketed restaurants and lunch counters in the downtown area that refused service to black people.

When Dr. Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) came to town in 1964, civil rights meetings took place at Bethel Baptist Church. A "Freedom School" held here under the direction of Rev. Andrew Young, taught black history and the history of the civil rights movement. Young went on to serve as congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, mayor of Atlanta, and president of the National Council of Churches. He returned to St. Augustine in 2004 to take part in the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the campaign here that led to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Sponsored by: Northrop Grumman


This marker is part of the ACCORD Freedom Trail.

For more information:
ACCORD - Anniversary to Commemorate the Civil Rights Demonstrations, Inc
NAACP - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
SCLC - Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Wikipedia - NAACP
Wikipedia - SCLC
Wikipedia - Civil Rights Act of 1964
Wikipedia - Racism
Wikipedia - Racial segregation in the United States