By some measures, the city was making strides to emerge from its racist past. But the killing of three Black people Saturday by a young, white shooter was a painful and startling reminder that the remnants of racism continue to fester in Jacksonville, Florida.
What happened in Jacksonville, said longtime resident Rodney Hurst, 79, “could have happened anywhere, except it did happen in Jacksonville.”
The shooting occurred as the Jacksonville community prepared for an annual commemoration of what is known as Ax Handle Saturday. In an unforgettable exhibition of brutality 63 years ago, a mob of white people used baseball bats and ax handles to club peaceful Black demonstrators protesting segregation at a downtown lunch counter on Aug. 27, 1960. Police first stood by but joined the white mob when the Black group began fighting back. Instead of collaring any white instigators, police arrested several Black people.
Hurst, who was 16 when the historic violence erupted, has been encouraged by progress following the Civil Rights movement, but worries racism once again has become normalized by the nation’s divisive politics.