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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Civil Rights icon Rodney Hurst disinvited from DCPS as black history month starts

 Rut ro, Jacksonville, we have a problem.

A few weeks back, I was told local National Honor Societies were being told to no longer invite professors who hadn't been vetted to speak to their members.

I thought, wow, that's bad, but there is so much bad going on it is hard to keep up. 

I included the note in a list I sent reporters about closing libraries and moved on. 

Later a reporter told me that the district had said professors weren't being disinvited. I replied it wouldn't surprise me that the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing in DCPS, but it reminded me of something I had seen about civil rights icon Rodney Hurst, and I reached out to him and asked if he had been disinvited and he told me.

 It happened. The teacher said the principal was "uneasy" with inviting me. He also said that he had been told his books about the Civil Rights movement were being removed from classroom libraries.

What the ever-loving beep, uneasy, with inviting him?

Let's talk about Rodney Hurst,

Taken from a DCPS page about him.

  • In 1944, Rodney L. Hurst, Sr. was born. He grew up primarily in Jacksonville, Florida. Throughout his life, he frequently traveled between Jacksonville, Florida, and Aiken, South Carolina. His mother, Janelle "Jan" Saunders Wilson, and grandmother, Lizzie Foreman Williams, educated him. Mr. Hurst has a sister called Joan as well. He was a book writer and wrote multiple books in his lifetime. His most recent book, "Never Forget Who You Are: Conversations about Racism and Identity


So he's not allowed to talk to DCPS kids because it makes adults uneasy, but DCPS cab include them in a page about African American icons?

That is the environment that DeSantis has created and Greene has exacerbated. Any lessons about civil rights and black history have become "uneasy". They don't want these topics taught with any validity because it makes adults feel uneasy, and parents, especially white parents, may have to answer some difficult questions we wouldn't want that would we ?(sic)

Some more about Rodney Hurst


It was never about a hot dog and a Coke! (Narrative)

It never ceases to amaze me how selective our memories are when it comes to situations filled with embarrassment, shame, and hurt. We choose to forget turbulent times rather than learn from them, as if not talking about them will make them go away. Just as closing our eyes does not cause us to go blind, shutting our mouths does nothing to erase memories or make events disappear from history.

Unfortunately, many whites and Blacks in Jacksonville, Florida have yet to grasp that reality. They have rationalized away the days of racism and segregation while insisting they stay buried in the past. On the surface, "Let bygones be bygones," sounds plausible. But U.S. philosopher and poet George Santanyana (1863-1952) said those "who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." To paraphrase his words, those who do not learn about their past will assuredly repeat it.

The civil rights movement in the late fifties and early sixties is a history of brave and unselfish Black leaders fighting against racism and segregation, and for the equality of all people in the United States.

Most Black and White citizens of Selma, Birmingham, Memphis, and Atlanta are acutely familiar with the violent civil rights struggles that occurred in their cities. Though the struggles in those cities may be more familiar, Jacksonville was not immune to the same type of cruelties.

I share in my book, It Was Never About a Hotdog and a Coke:... a facet of Jacksonville's history very few are willing to discuss, let alone embrace. Although its darkness may give Jacksonville's reputation a black eye, the eye-opening details, when synthesized, provide a remarkable history worth telling.

As a member of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP, what I submit to you are eyewitness accounts, including my own. Trust me when I say we fought social injustice in Jacksonville as earnestly as those on the national level.

At age eleven, I joined the Jacksonville Youth Council National Association of Colored People (NAACP) at the invitation of Rutledge Henry Pearson, the Youth Council's Advisor and my eighth grade American History class instructor. At age 15, I would become president of the Youth Council NAACP. By the hundreds, young Blacks in Jacksonville responded to the call of Mr. Pearson to fight racism and segregation through this extraordinary organization.

The Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP represented non-violent, church going, committed, and dignified young people determined to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. They have held true to these values throughout their adult lives.

If segregation sought to remind Blacks of their perceived second-class citizenship in this country, then segregated lunch counters represented visible vestiges that served up daily insults. The time finally came when the Youth Council NAACP simply said, "enough is enough." Disregarding the personal physical peril, members of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP made the decision to confront Jacksonville's segregated policies and its accompanying Jim Crow laws.

Scores of Black heroes who participated in sit-in demonstrations surfaced across the United States. For the most part, those participants came from the campuses of Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). However, in Jacksonville, most of the demonstrators came from Black high schools. The peaceful protests of teenagers who dared to challenge segregated white lunch counters is not a myth or an urban legend. Nor is the attack by more than 200 whites with baseball bats and ax handles on 34 Black NAACP Youth Council members on August 27, 1960.

Today's generation must understand the circumstances and the times that led to this racially explosive and violent day in Jacksonville's history.

Read that last sentence again. Today's generation must understand the circumstances and the times that led to this racially explosive and violent day in Jacksonville's history.

How will today's generation understand if they aren't allowed to learn what's happening? If people that were there aren't allowed to speak.

I don't know the principal who would have felt "uneasy" if Mr. Hurst was allowed to speak. Though I do know the environment that DeSantis and, to a lesser extent, Greene have created, and that's one of fear, which makes me believe they have learned nothing, and sadly they seem  all to determined that students don't learn anything either.  

To learn more about Axe Handle Sunday, something they didn't bother to teach when I was in school, click the link.

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