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, and Unless WE Tell It…It Never Gets Told! Hurst was the sixteen-year-old President of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP, and one of the leaders of the 1960 Jacksonville sit-in demonstrations.
It was never about a hot dog and a Coke! details the racial and political climate of Jacksonville Florida during the Fifties and the Sixties, and the real history of the bloody events of August 27, 1960, when 200 whites with ax handles and baseball bats attacked members of the Jacksonville, Florida Youth Council NAACP who were demonstrating peaceably at White lunch counters in downtown Jacksonville; and also attacked anyone Black in downtown Jacksonville. That day is called Ax Handle Saturday.
It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®! is the winner of more than a dozen awards, including the USA Book News Book First Place Gold Medal Award for Multi-Cultural Nonfiction, the Florida Book Awards Bronze Medal in Nonfiction, and was recognized by the Florida Historical Society with their First Annual Stetson Kennedy Award. Hurst’s second book “Unless WE Tell It…It Never Gets Told!” published in January 2016 relates stories of notable Blacks of Jacksonville who impacted this city and the country, relates stories of America’s Black History, and of the historical fight against Racism. It was recently honored as one of five finalists for the 2016 Multicultural Non-Fiction Award by the National Best Books Awards national book competition, and is an award recipient of the 2017 City of Jacksonville Historical Preservation Award.
Hurst speaks extensively on Civil Rights, Black History, and Racism, and is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards. He was the keynote speaker for the Baptist Ministers’ 2016 Martin Luther King Breakfast in Jacksonville…the keynote speaker for the 2010 City of Jacksonville Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast… the keynote speaker for the 2014 Nassau County Branch of the NAACP Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast…and the keynote speaker for the 2013 Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. 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 original 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 to serve as the Executive Director of the State of Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board, and the first Black male hired at Prudential’s South Central Home Office.
Hurst and his late wife Ann (June 24, 1945-September 5, 2016) would have celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary on December 10, 2016. Hurst has two sons, Rodney (Vandlyn) and Todd, and two granddaughters, Marquiette, and Jasmine. He worships at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church and Bethel Baptist Institutional Church.