ONE YEAR AGO TODAY...
Art Republic "officially" unveiled the "Lift Every Voice" murals on the Forsyth Street side of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund Center (formerly the Haydon Burns library).
It is an honor to have my image on one of the murals, and it was an honor to speak that night last year. Although I am appreciative and humble that my image is there, my image is symbolic and representative of those young Black people in Jacksonville who disregarded physical peril by participating in the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins demonstrations to fight Racism, and to "sit down" fighting against Jacksonville's Racism, for their Black Human Dignity and Respect. We Believed in "we and us," and not "I and me."
And though WE, the members of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP circa 1960 protesting Racism peacefully through sit-in demonstrations were attacked, and other Blacks not associated with the sit-ins were also attacked downtown on that August 27 Saturday in 1960 by 200 White Racist thugs with ax handles and baseball bats, to a person, WE would do it All again.
It is a priceless personal honor to share a public mural with Mr. Rutledge Henry Pearson-my Junior High school (Isaiah Blocker Junior High) American History teacher, my Junior High school Civics teacher...the adviser to the1959-1961 Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP (when I was President of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP, and led the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins with Alton Yates, and Marjorie Meeks Brown) ...and my Mentor.
There are 3 murals-one mural features the Revered Zora Neale Hurston and the Very Talented Ebony Payne-English...one mural features Jacksonville "Angel" Eartha M. M. White and the Majestic (and my friend) Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole...and the third mural between these esteemed ladies, is Mr. Pearson and me.
It was also priceless for my son, Rodney Hurst II, to introduce me as one of the speakers for the unveiling. I, in turn, officially introduced my great-granddaughter, Miss Everly Ann Dorrell, to Jacksonville last year. It was her public debut. All in all, it was a Grand evening.
Thank you Jessica Santiago and Art Republic...thank you Mari Kuraishi and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund...thank you Muralist Par Excellente' Celso Quinones Gonzalez ...thank you Photographer Artist, Videographer, and Video Director Christopher Parsons...thank you to all of the artists, involved with this awesome project...and thank you again, to my family and friends, who were there last year to share with me. And though Ann was not "physically" there, her "Spirit" was there, and her "Love" was there, as she looked down smiling.
(The original photos for the mural of Ebony Payne-English, and of my mural by the gifted photographer, Ingrid Damiani.)
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.