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  • Writer's pictureRodney Hurst

The 60th Anniversary...August 27, 2020

WE WILL COMMEMORATE THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JACKSONVILLE YOUTH COUNCIL NAACP 1960 SIT-INS AND AX HANDLE SATURDAY ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 27, 2020 AT 12 NOON IN HEMMING PARK---NO MATTER WHO COMES TO TOWN. This 60th Anniversary Commemoration is sponsored by the NAACP, the Center for Urban Education and Policy, Leadership Is For Everyone Inc. (LIFE), and a host of other individuals and companies. Expect weekly updates.

White lunch counters were visible vestiges of segregation and racism. Today it might seem passive, but 60 years ago, it was an unheard-of confrontation to the White racist comfort zone of segregation and privilege in Jacksonville, and many Whites responded violently in Jacksonville.

White Department stores in downtown Jacksonville insulted Black shoppers daily by wanting them to spend their money, but only where the stores wanted Black shoppers to spend their money. One of the many places White stores did not want Blacks to spend money was at the White lunch counters. We said that was an insult. We did not sit in because we wanted to eat a hot dog and a coke. We sat in to dramatize our opposition to segregation and Racism and for our Human Dignity and Respect.

After demonstrating for two weeks against the racism of downtown stores, members of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP* were attacked by 200 White Racist thugs with ax handles and baseball bats on August 27, 2020, Ax Handle Saturday. They also attacked anyone in downtown Jacksonville with a Black hue of skin. There were no police around to “protect and serve” and the White press of Jacksonville “whited out” news of the sit-ins. Thank God for the Black press who did cover the sit-ins and Ax Handle Saturday in Jacksonville as they did other demonstrations throughout the Civil Rights Movement.

*(The Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP was comprised of mostly high school students in Jacksonville from the Black segregated high schools-Matthew W. Gilbert Junior Senior high school on the East side or “out East” as we used to say; New Stanton high school on the West side; Douglas Anderson Junior Senior high school on the South side; and Northwestern Junior Senior high school [my Alma Mater] on the North side. I had the honor of serving as the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP President. Mr. Rutledge Henry Pearson was the Youth Council adviser.)

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