With the largest civil rights movement in contemporary history playing out as a backdrop, Jacksonville is now celebrating the fact it will officially host the 2020 Republican National Convention. Coincidentally, will be held on the 60th anniversary of a race riot in that city.
Known as “Ax Handle Saturday,” on Aug. 27, 1960, more than 200 white people, including Ku Klux Klan members, chased down Black people in the streets of Jacksonville and beat them to submission with baseball bats and ax handles.
Now, it appears the marking of this horrific occasion will be honored with a convention honoring our county’s biggest bigot.
Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican, made the announcement yesterday in a flashy social media video, stating that the convention will be held from Aug. 24-27, which means Trump will likely give his closing speech at the same moment that, 60 years prior, Jacksonville police allowed KKK members to violently attack Black protesters.
“If you think you know Jacksonville, think again,” said Mayor Curry in the video.
For the unfamiliar, the events of Ax Handle Saturday are eerily similar to current-day protests. The riot began after the Jacksonville Youth Council and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People organized a peaceful lunch-counter demonstration to protest segregation.
“The attack began with white people spitting on the protesters and yelling racial slurs at them. When the young demonstrators held their resolve, they were beaten with wooden handles that had not yet had metal ax heads attached,” wrote Dr. Ben Brotemarkle, executive director of the Florida Historical Society, for the state archives.
Rodney L. Hurst, who as a 16-year-old in 1960 led sit-ins at “whites only” lunch counters in Jacksonville, wrote about the incident in his book It Was Never About a Hot Dog and a Coke.“The intent was to scare, intimidate, and bring physical harm,” Hurst says about the KKK. “Many times you could not draw a line between the Klan and law enforcement, because law enforcement were at least accomplices to a lot of the things the Klan did.”
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