We asked Jacksonville's White political leadership, namely Mayor Haydon Burns to appoint a Bi-Racial Committee to discuss the myriad of Jacksonville's problems as it related to the Black community.
Mayor Haydon Burns, the segregationist (his description of himself) refused to appoint an official Bi-Racial Committee to work on Jacksonville's myriad Racial problems, a committee was formed by the NAACP, the Black and the White Ministerial Alliances, and the Downtown Business community.
His Reasoning? Burns said that he was a "segregationist" and "bi-racial" meant integration, and if he appointed a bi-racial committee his "friends might think he was an integrationist." His actual words. Thus, the thinking of Jacksonville's mayor, representative of Jacksonville's White political establishment, circa 1960.
We had a number of complaints on the table to discuss--No Black firemen, No Black salespeople downtown, No Black bus drivers, Black police could not arrest Whites, downtown segregation, and Racism. Attorney Earl M. Johnson, Mr. Pearson, and I were on the committee.
After several months of contentious meetings with me and Mr. Pearson walking out at least twice, an agreement was reached to integrate downtown lunch counters. Marjorie Meeks (Brown), the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP Secretary, and I, now students and Edward Waters College, then, left the campus for 5 consecutive days and went downtown and ate lunch at Woolworth's White lunch counter. After those 5 days, all the downtown lunch counters were integrated. A small step but a step, nonetheless.
Leave a Reply.
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.