As we commemorate 60 years since the sit-in demonstrations, led by university students and youth members of the NAACP across the country and in Jacksonville, we also remember the violent white-led backlash on August 27, 1960 that erupted in our city and became known as Ax Handle Saturday. It was a pivotal moment in the march towards desegregation in a community ripe with racism and ready for change. This powerful history is especially poignant at this moment of national reckoning following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the constant drumbeat of violence and oppression against Black people in America.
At a time and place when both tension and progress are palatable, Yellow House introduces Sit In, Stand Up: Still Not About a Hot Dog and a Coke, a virtual exhibition which coincides with the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday. The movement for Black Lives Matter has gained traction; confederate statues are coming down; and, the park at the heart of our city, where the intimidation and violence of Ax Handle Saturday occurred, is being renamed for James Weldon Johnson. Yet, it is also a time of documented police brutality, governmental corruption, and long existing racial inequities only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.