PICTURES FROM BEFORE ...DURING... AND AFTER AX HANDLE SATURDAY... When February rolls around every year, we roll out the same tired, comfortable, and non-threatening exhibits of Black history. In fact, some schools do not change or update their Black history exhibits. They simply dust them off and put them up. Most Black and White students consider Black history and Civil Rights History a novelty. To them, Black history happens during a single month, and after that, it is back to real American History, with little or no discussion of the relevant contributions by African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement. Most would interpret that to mean that this generation does not respect Black history. Even the staid and archaic world of public education should right that wrong. Today, Blacks and Whites need to realize and understand and appreciate The Important and The Rich Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement in Jacksonville and in this country, and the struggle for Black Human Dignity and Respect.
I have lived in Jacksonville all of my life and at times, race relations studies amuse me. Every time you survey Blacks in Jacksonville and ask them to document the problems and the impact of discriminatory practices and Racism, they give you countless examples. Racial profiling, job discrimination, first fired at times of downsizing, woefully inadequate support and resources for schools located in the Black community, lack of infrastructure improvements in the community—the list is long and supporting documents can be stacked from floor to ceiling.
Because you cannot see the visible vestiges of racism and segregation does not mean that Racism and Segregation no longer exist. Fighting for Civil Rights today requires the same diligence as it did in the sixties. We still discuss issues today that we discussed in the fifties and the sixties: a lack of communication between whites and Blacks; the politics of exclusion and segregation; the politics of slavery; police brutality; violence against Blacks; mostly Black schools having to suffer from inadequate capital outlays and operational resources; problems between the community and the police department; affirmative action, or the lack thereof; the strange political term called reverse discrimination; and of course, Abject and Vitriolic Racism. I guess the adage still applies—the more things change, the more they remain the same. Most Blacks still appear afraid to discuss these issues, while most Whites still do not want to discuss them.
What happened years ago in downtown Jacksonville when members of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP, who understood the fight and the struggle, were attacked by 200 White Thugs with Ax Handles and Baseball bats, is not Urban Legend. IT HAPPENED!
It was MY honor to serve as the President of the Youth Council NAACP. With Mr. Rutledge Pearson, a courageous young Black schoolteacher as our adviser and also my mentor, and with great support from Civil Rights Stalwarts in Jacksonville, WE fought to right some of the wrongs of Racism and Segregation in the Jacksonville community. Such fights are never easy, but you base your fight on the courage of your convictions. The Emerging Youth Leadership of the Civil Rights Movement and Jacksonville had its Chapter and its stories! The Struggle Continues!