Tagged: civil rights

Jacksonville, Florida takes down Confederate monument after 122 years.

In October of 2017 I traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to give some demonstrations. On a day off I needed to mail a package and headed downtown to a shipping service just off Hemming Park. Downtown was pretty quiet and since I was unfamiliar with Jacksonville I decided to nose around. I noticed a tall monument in the center of Hemming Park which appeared to have a soldier atop the pedestal. As I stood on the Southern edge of the park I saw an historic marker and upon reading it discovered that behind me had stood the Woolworth building which had been the site of Civil Rights demonstrations in the early 1960’s. In 1963 African American students and a white professor had sat at the counter looking to be served and were met with no service and humiliating treatment. Drinks were poured on the student and professor.
In 1960 the demonstrations led to violent clashes between whites and blacks which became known as Ax Handle Saturday. I had known of the lunch counter demonstrations but did not realize they had been in Jacksonville nor did I know of the severity of the attacks on demonstrators on the day which became known as Ax Handle Saturday. I was stunned to be standing on the site of such momentous events in this country’s struggle for Civil and Human Rights.
I then walked over to what expected might be another monument to Confederate soldiers erected in the Jim Crow era that followed the post Civil War Reconstruction period. I had just come from New Orleans where the statue of Gen. Robt. E. Lee had just been removed. As I suspected, it was a Memorial to the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. On the monument we’re the words, “Our Heroes” and “God Bless Our Country”. The date of commemoration was 1898, solidly in the Jim Crow Era.
As I was drawing the statue, [as I have drawn and documented other monuments to the Civil War, in particular the monuments erected to commemorate the secessionist movement that waged war against the United States of America in order to defend the institution of slavery, and the racist White Supremacy legacy], an African American gentleman who had been walking around the park, passed close by me and muttered lowly but sufficiently for me to hear, comments about a “white mutherfucker” that I felt were very likely directed at the dude wearing a Texas Longhorn baseball cap and sketching the vestige of the Lost Cause. The city of Jacksonville had been locked in a dispute over the removal of these monuments as had/have the other cities and states still exhibiting them. If I was in fact the gentleman’s intended person of disgust, and if it was in regards to an apparent interest in the symbol of the savage oppression and ongoing injustice to African Americans, he could little know that I, who was a child of southern parents, no longer romanticized the history of the old south nor the Confederacy, am a firm unionist and applaud the removal of these monuments. We have still a lot of reckoning and healing over a truly grievous part of our history.

Drawn with a Graf von Faber Chevron fountain pen and Pitt Artist Pens.




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