Monson Steps – St. Augustine, Florida - Atlas Obscura

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Monson Steps

The site of Martin Luther King Jr.'s arrest as he attempted to have lunch. 

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested on these steps in 1964.

Charged with trespassing, his “crime” was attempting to join friends for lunch. The Monson Motor Lodge & Restaurant was a “Whites only” establishment. From a jail cell, King wrote to Rabbi Israel Dresner encouraging him to speak out against local injustice.

This was also the scene of an infamous hate crime, when a motel owner poured acid into a swimming pool full of anti-segregationists. Both incidents made national news. Historians say the protests were pivotal in raising awareness of (and garnering support for) the civil rights movement. 

The motel was leveled in 2003, but these steps are preserved as a haunting reminder of past iniquity, and the struggles that still remain.

Know Before You Go

The steps are on the property of the Historic Bayfront Hotel. It's free/open to the public to access the steps. There are plaques located around the location and the steps themselves have yellow paint. 

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February 25, 2022

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