On June 18, 1964, 17 rabbis were arrested for peacefully protesting segregation in St. Augustine, the largest mass arrest of rabbis in U.S. history. The next day the men wrote a letter entitled “Why We Went” from behind bars at the St. Johns County Jail.
“We went to St. Augustine in response to the appeal of Martin Luther King, Jr… in which he asked us to join him in creative witness to our joint convictions of equality and racial justice,” the letter reads. “[I]njustice in St. Augustine, as anywhere else, diminishes the humanity of each of us.”
The Columbia Restaurant in St. Augustine hosts a fifth annual commemoration of the arrests on June 19, 12:30 PM. The hour-long event includes a reading of the letter and discussion.