“It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®!” is subtitled “A Personal Account of the 1960 Sit-in Demonstrations in Jacksonville, Florida and Ax Handle Saturday”. It is Hurst’s personal eyewitness account, as President of the Jacksonville Florida Youth Council NAACP, of the events leading up to, and the fallout from, the bloody events of August 27, 1960. On that day, 200 ax handle and baseball bat wielding whites attacked members of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP, who were “sitting-in” at white lunch counters in downtown Jacksonville peacefully protesting segregation.
Part memoir, part history and part biography, “It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®!” provides a chronicle of those pivotal events whether you were there, only heard the stories, or, as is the case with so many people today, know next to nothing about the violent years of the Civil Rights struggle.Hurst details the times, the mood, and the people of Jacksonville during a time of high racial tension, and change. Members of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP, challenged segregation by 'sitting-in' at white lunch counters in Jacksonville, Florida. It is not a myth or an urban legend. Their being attacked by more than 200 whites with baseball bats and ax handles is also not a myth or an urban legend.
Hurst’s book is used extensively by high schools, colleges, and universities as a civil rights movement and Black History resource, and was the subject of a pictorial exhibit at the University of North Florida’s Lufrano Intercultural Gallery.
In addition to his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Hurst served two four-year terms on the Jacksonville City Council and is responsible for a number of “firsts” in the Jacksonville Community. He is: one of the first thirteen national recipients of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Television Fellowships; the first Black to co-host a television talk show in Jacksonville on PBS Channel WJCT; the first Black male hired at the Prudential South Central Home Office in Jacksonville, Florida; and the first Black to serve as the Executive Director of the State of Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board.
Hurst is also the recipient of numerous awards including: the Clanzel T. Brown Award from the Jacksonville Urban league, the James Genwright Sr. Humanitarian Award presented by the Lincoln-Douglas Memorial Emancipation Proclamation Association, Inc, and The Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Visionary Award present by the Bethune-Cookman University National Alumni Association. Hurst speaks extensively on racism and civil rights. He gave the Keynote address at the 2010 City of Jacksonville’s 23rd Annual Martin Luther King Breakfast, and also gave the Keynote address at the 2013 Nassau County Annual Martin Luther King Breakfast.
Regardless of what you have heard or seen about sit-in demonstrations, it was never about eating a hot dog and drinking a Coke. It was always about human dignity and respect.
Hurst and his wife Ann have been married for more than 46 years. They have two sons, Rodney II and Todd, and two granddaughters Marquiette, and Jasmine.