A Shelter on King's Road, 2010  

 shelter on king's road.

Collaboration of poet Terri Witek and visual artist Cyriaco Lopes (with a music selection by Rusty Witek).

Sound installation made of 4 channels through the rooms of historical Markland House in Saint Augustine (original poems by Witek + texts from 'Confessions' by Saint Augustine + hit parade of 1964). Tape drawings of blueprints of rooms in the floor - reminders of crime scenes.

Introduction-- Memory Embers

Saint Augustine is justly famous as a fulcrum in the battle for the soul of the country in the months preceding the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In one of the mesmerizing events of an era, Dr. King's beach cottage home in St. Augustine was shot and then burned by a firebomb. We did a collaborative art intervention to remember these facts at the Markland House, which abuts King Street at the very beginning of Martin Luther King Avenue. Our installation demonstrated how the strong walls of one house can preserve the idea of another.


To evoke the burned house inside the Markland House, in each of the 4 rooms visitors look into from the central hall, we drew the blueprint of a small room on the floor using painter's tape. Speakers offered continuous-play poetic voice pieces created for the occasion.

The Question to Which Any Answer is Ocean

At the top of the stairwell a hidden speaker played the sound of waves. At eye level, there was a framed 5 X 7 historical photograph shot in St Augustine in 1964:

ow History Travels as the Work of our Hands

The piece is a memorial to ideas that were so harshly tested in this city not so long ago. It evokes the house of the man, but also the shelter of an idea. The walls of the first don't exist anymore, but the protection of the second is still strong. Any offering we make to our history becomes part of it.

"[On May, 1964] Dr. King moves into a St. Augustine cottage. On the 26th, he addresses a large mass meeting, after which Rev. C.T. Vivian and Dr. Hayling lead 400 St. Augustine blacks and a handful of northern white supporters on a night march to the Old Slave Market in the middle of the city's tourist district. Night marches allow adults with jobs to participate after work, but they are more dangerous because hostile whites can attack under cover of darkness with little risk of being identified or arrested.

Whites harass the march from the sidelines, but lawmen keep the two groups apart. On the following night, the number opposing the protesters grows to 150, but again police prevent serious violence. By the third night, May 28th, the mob has grown to 250. They viciously beat white reporters covering the campaign and SCLC staff member Harry Boyte is clubbed by a sheriff's deputy and bitten by a police dog. Klansmen charge into the marchers, pummeling them with blackjacks and whipping them with chains. Sheriff Davis and Police Chief Stuart declare "martial law." They order SCLC leader Andrew Young to halt further demonstrations. That night, the KKK riddles Dr. King's cottage with rifle fire, unaware that he is out of town on a speaking engagement, and other gunmen fire on Harry Boyte, narrowly missing him.

Movement lawyers file suit in Federal Court to prevent Davis from blocking the marches. 300 Klan members hold a rally outside of town and threaten to kill Dr. King. A few nights later, arsonists destroy King's cottage with a firebomb."

Civil Rights Movement Veterans (http://www.crmvet.org/tim/timhis64.htm#1964staug)