An Honor for me to be featured with Mr. Rutledge Henry Pearson, my "American History" Class teacher, my "Civics" Class teacher, the adviser to the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP during the 1960 sit-ins and Ax Handle Saturday when I was President of the Youth Council NAACP, and my mentor. I also had the honor to submit Mr. Pearson's name for the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2016. Thank you Art Republic, thank you Jessie Ball duPont Fund Center, and thank you to the Fantastically Talented Artist, Celso. To share this space with my mentor, Mr. Rutledge Henry Pearson... PRICELESS.
Rutledge Pearson was an educator, civil rights leader and human rights activist. He was also a notable baseball player in his early years. Pearson played for the 1952 New York Black Yankees of the Negro League and he would have played professional baseball in the Major League with the Jacksonville Beach Seabirds but park officials decided they’d rather close the park then allow him to play. This event changed his life and from then on he dedicated his life to the struggle for human dignity and respect.
He was featured on the cover of JET magazine on April 20, 1964, with the headline: "Former Baseball Star Leads Jacksonville Civil Rights Struggle." The article states that he was very influential in recruiting members of the NAACP citing that in just two years he was able to drive membership from a few hundred to over 2,000.
Rodney Lawrence Hurst, Sr. is a civil rights activist, a Black historian, and the author of two award-winning books--It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®! A personal account of the 1960 sit-in demonstrations in Jacksonville, Florida and Ax Handle Saturday. His second book, Unless WE Tell It...It Never Gets Told" gives insight into Jacksonville's Black History and those Blacks who not only impacted Jacksonville and the State of Florida, but this nation as well. His third book, "Never Forget Who You Are: Conversations About Racism and Identity Development" which he co-authored with Dr. Rudy F. Jamison Jr. was released last month.
It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®! recounts with clarity the segregated civic, the segregated political, and the segregated educational climate of Jacksonville Florida in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. Hurt was the sixteen-year-old President of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP and was one of the leaders of the 1960 sit-in demonstrations.
These two courageous men change the trajectory of not only Jacksonville but civil rights in the South. It is our honor to have the world renowned artist, @celsoart memorialize these local legends in a #newmonument
(The artist Celso stands in fromt of his most recent Mosaic Mural of Rodney L. Hurst, and Mr. Rutledge Henry Pearson, Civil Rights Icon, and Hurst's mentor.
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.