ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Maude Burroughs Jackson holds community meetings her in Middleburg home and she keeps Christmas decorations up all year long.
"If people were so good at Christmas time, why don't we keep that spirit all year," she said.
In 1960, she started college at Florida Memorial College in St. Augustine, just as the Civil Rights Movement was heating up.
"If it had been a violent movement I would not have been a part of it," she recalled.
But Jackson remembers the night marches she walked in were dangerous.
"It was so violent there. The atmosphere was so evil," she shook her head. "There were people on top of the buildings throwing bricks and bottles and anything they could find at you."
"That was the clans and the people who were fighting against what we were fighting for."
Jackson recalls meeting in homes and offices with Dr. Martin Luther King and other marchers.
"After marches and meetings, we'd go to Dr. Hayling's office and sit and talk about how it went that night, and talk about strategies for the next day," Jackson explained.
She even made Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a meal.
"A very simple meal! A steak, salad, and toast," She smiled, "I felt proud being the one chosen to do that."
Jackson also participated in sit-ins at local businesses. One time at the Monson restaurant, her group was refused service.
"They called the police and we were arrested and carried to jail," she noted.
Jackson was arrested three times during protests, "but this was something I believed in and I wanted to do it."
Amid national media coverage of the violence in St. Augustine, the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.
Jackson soon graduated from college and then she started to teach elementary school.
Nearly 50 years later at the age of 71, Jackson said things are better, but there is work to keep doing.
"We have to keep working, teaching, and demanding the right thing be done."
She says drugs, lack of education and crime are encroaching on everyone's freedom.
"If we don't have the love in us to not go out and kill up people, then what good is passing a bill?"
And so she continues to try to better her community and has plans for a community center in Middleburg aimed at helping children. That's only one of many things she's working on.
There's something in this woman that just won't quit.
First Coast News