When we “sat in” at the heretofore White lunch counters at department stores in downtown Jacksonville in 1960, they closed the lunch counters. Angry Whites, who were denied eating fresh lunches at “their” lunch counters in downtown stores Woolworth, Grant’s, Kress, McCrory’s, Cohen Brothers, and Walgreen’s, showed their volatile displeasure with us for disrupting their Racist comfort zones. Woolworth was the largest “5 & 10” department store in downtown Jacksonville and had the largest lunch counter...84 seats. “Niggers” ...“Jungle Bunnies” ... “NAACP-Niggers-Ain’t-Acting-like Colored-People” (for NAACP) ... “Pickaninnies” ... “Coons” and ...Burrheads” ... were some of the “enlightened” vocabulary, Racist Whites yelled as they stood behind us after “their” lunch counters were closed. And, we were often “told” to “Go Back to Africa.”
We were children, mostly teenagers, and members of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP, yet we knew right from wrong and we could readily recognize Racism and Jim Crow. Our sit-in demonstrations were for Human Dignity and Respect and Against Racism.
After two weeks of peaceful demonstrating, we were attacked by 200 or so, White Racist thugs in the middle of downtown Jacksonville with ax handles and baseball bats. That was 60 years ago. We never saw police during those two weeks.
Overt Racism was rampant then. Even though the visible signs of Racism and Segregation are gone today, and we live in an Integration Generation today, what we see playing out in real time today, is no different than what was happening in this country in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Racism then, as Racism is now, was actively supported by the Christian White America, who said and did, Nothing.
Not only did Haydon Burns, the mayor of Jacksonville, not provide safety for its Black citizens downtown on that Ax Handle Saturday, the mayor and law enforcement were told “something violent was going to happen” by an FBI informant...and still did Nothing.
Then, as now, except for a few White ministers, voices from the White Christian Community were conspicuously silent in Jacksonville. In fact, the City of Jacksonville has never apologized for not providing “public safety protection," --you know that "Protect and Serve" thing --and Jacksonville's White Christian Community has never apologized for their lack of support, their lack of human compassion, their lack of human decency, and their lack of Brotherhood, and Sisterhood. We did not expect they would apologize, but it would have been a “nice Christian touch.” Of course silence, in the face of obvious Moral wrongs, is complicity.
There is little difference in what happened in the Civil Rights Movement throughout the South and in Jacksonville then; and what is happening now, on the national scene and the Racist discourse and the Racism, spurred on, encouraged, and emboldened by America’s Racist president...and you get, Silence from White Christian America? Christian Right and Wrong is the issue...yet you witness violence by White Racists...and vile messaging from the mouth of America’s White Racist president, who say and do Racist things as a Racist, AND he gets applause from White America?
White Christian America is noticeably silent and will not call donald trump out for his Racism, his Core Racist Attitudes, and his lack of Human Decency and Respect. You have to ask yourself, do White folks read the same Christian Bible that Black folks read? And if they do, WHY are they saying nothing?
Which is why I do not expect much from Christian White America. When you, as White Christians are as silent as you are, in the face of despicable Racism as exhibited in this country today, and by a Racist president, then you support Racism... just as you did 60 years ago. You might as well have had an Ax Handle in your hand.
The Struggle Continues!
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.