SAINT AUGUSTINE – The Saint Augustine Historical Society is taking a step in a different direction this year with the awarding of the Herschel E. Shepard Award.
The society annually considers nominees for its highest tribute to a person, organization, group or project that makes an extraordinary contribution to the preservation of St. Augustine’s historical legacy. This year, however, the society is recognizing The Fort Mose Historical Society: African American Community of Freedom, Inc. for the group’s initial and sustained efforts in protecting and preserving the site of Fort Mose and the creation and operation of educational programming that preserves, protects and interprets African-American history.
The tribute is named for preservation architect Herschel E. Shepard in recognition of his distinguished career and outstanding contributions to the design and preservation of historic structures in St. Augustine. Herschel’s sphere of influence is national and international in scope but nowhere else has his generosity of spirit, exemplary dedication and extraordinary service been witnessed more than in Saint Augustine.
The award seeks to recognize others who, like Herschel, have put forth extraordinary efforts in preserving Saint Augustine’s storied past and have been inspirational examples of public citizenry. Recent award winners include archaeologist Kathleen Deagan for her extensive and distinguished work in uncovering Florida’s colonial past, ACCORD for their work in preserving the stories and places of the Saint Augustine civil rights movement and activities which played a key role in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Junior Service League of Saint Augustine, Inc. and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Inc for their work to restore the fire-ravaged Keeper’s House and create and a Maritime Museum and the St. Augustine Light Station.
The Fort Mose Historical Society is a grassroots organization, composed of volunteers and assisted by the Florida State Park Service. The group worked with local and state entities to save the site of Fort Mose, the first black settlement, from being sold and developed.
The Fort Mose Historical Society continues to protect the site of Fort Mose and offers educational programming on African-American History. Recently, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recognized Fort Mose as a “Site of Memory.” Fort Mose Historical Society’s annual “Flight to Freedom” event recreates the experience of hundreds of slaves as they traveled to Fort Mose in search of freedom is yet another outstanding accomplishment.