Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Ambassador Andrew Young reminisces with Historical Society members


(l-r): Ambassador Andrew Young, SAJHS’s Sandra Parks, documentary filmmaker, journalist and public relations specialist C.B. Hackworth and SAJHS Board member Moises Sztylerman.

“Whenever I speak with Sy, he is always quick to remind me ‘Don’t forget, I was arrested before you were!’” explained Ambassador Andrew Young in remembering his friend and colleague, Rabbi Israel Dresner.  Rabbi Dresner was one of 16 rabbis arrested in St. Augustine on the afternoon of June 18, 1964 while supporting the work of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was the largest mass arrest of Jewish clergy in the United States. 

 The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was speaking at Flagler College as part of the school’s Ideas and Images: Visiting Scholars and Artists program.

His personal archives are the foundation for Flagler College’s new Civil Rights Library of St. Augustine, an Internet-based multimedia archive documenting the St. Augustine civil rights movement.

Young, who was arrested hours after the 16 rabbis, spoke after his formal presentation with a delegation of leaders from the St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society and emphasized the significance of the presence of Jewish leadership and white clergymen.  During his formal presentation he spoke of the challenges of St. Augustine being greater than those faced in places like Selma and Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga.  He spoke of how heartened Southern Christian Leadership Council members were in June 1964 upon the arrival, after a long journey, of the rabbis who were so ready to quickly “get into the middle of what was happening!” 

Young was the proud 1978 winner of the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, named for Joel Elias Spingarn, of a prominent New York Jewish family, early leader of the NAACP and co-founder of the publishing house Harcourt, Brace and Company. 

When invited by St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society leaders to join in marking the 50th anniversary of the largest mass arrest of rabbis in the U.S., Young promised he would “give it some serious thought!”


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