Tag Archives: KKK

New Story: Resurrecting Hill Top, Black History on Forman Circle

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Cooking for Martin Luther King, Jr., Maude Burroughs Jackson says, was one of the greatest honors of her life. Two decades prior, her father built this house by hand. Maude entered first grade in 1947 in the one room schoolhouse she ended up saving from destruction in 1995. Because of repeated vandalism, she no longer ventures to the community cemetery by herself. It’s because of her love for those who loved her those early years that we know now of this community at all.

Protests in the Summer of 2020, the spring of 1964

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This story compares the protests of 1964 to those of 2020. It demonstrates how current protests call out the murder of George Floyd, but also the long pattern of Jacksonville police abuses of authority. It shows how 1964 Jax protests were met with official racism and racist vigilantism and how 2020 protests were met with public bullying against organizers. It suggests how police, if they care, might start the process to make a systemic (not a “bad apples”) restructuring, and asks what we might do about the disintegration of America. 

This Week’s Story: Tip Top Tavern / Randall’s Ranch House Restaurant

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Before that night the Ku Klux Klan wore their hoods in for dinner, before somebody assaulted Randall Fleiss and stole his ivory, before Ron Pate initiated his “If you want to fight, you have to fight me” policy, Darryl Swearingen asked his mother if he could take a job washing dishes. The story of the Tip Top Tavern / Randall’s Ranch House Restaurant dates back almost a century.

New Story: First Baptist Church

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First Baptist Church has perhaps received more love and more hate than any other entity in Jacksonville. It dates to a ca.-Civil War split with black church members who retained the original name, Bethel Baptist. In 1923, Pastor W.A. Hobson welcomed 200 Klansmen in full regalia into his farewell sermon. In the 1980s, Pastors Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines ignited a showdown with more “liberal” members of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2019, what once seemed unthinkable occurs: the church plans to sell 90 percent of its downtown campus.

Two Writers Dead on Bay Street

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When “Poor Sam Russ, one of the best, most brilliant and widely known newspapermen in Florida” drank himself to death “in a cheap lodging house” on Bay Street, newspapers said, “Dying alone, unwept and unsung,

[he] reminds us also of the death of Hamilton Jay, who, like Sam Russ, occupied a position on the Times-Union, was a brilliant writer of prose and poetry.” Hamilton Jay, the poet laureate of Florida, drank cyanide, leaving a note that said the voices would not stop calling; “I can hold back no longer.”

When the Klan hid and sniveled in a courthouse bathroom

Click below for the seventh story in a series of seven about the KKK in Jacksonville. On June 13th, come to Coniferous Cafe in downtown Jax at 7 pm, to hear Tim Gilmore’s talk “The Klan in Jax: Its Repugnant Rise and Hysterical Collapse.

A wave of mostly black protesters, about 300 of them, marched against the Klan before Duval County Courthouse on Bay Street, chanting, “Who’s gonna stop the Klan? We’re gonna stop the Klan!”

A black protester named Rose Marie Seay had snatched the white hood off Royals’s head and was parading around on the street with it for cameras.

Klansmen hid in a back bathroom, upstairs in the courthouse. “‘They accused us of being racists,’ one said, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his shirttail.”

The Klan in Jax Politics, Story no. 6

Click below for the sixth story in a series of seven about the KKK in Jacksonville. On June 13th, come to Coniferous Cafe in downtown Jax at 7 pm, to hear Tim Gilmore’s talk “The Klan in Jax: Its Repugnant Rise and Hysterical Collapse.

Confederate generals like Nathan Bedford Forrest formed the KKK in Tennessee in the wake of the Civil War in 1866. A prominent Jacksonville attorney and Klansman had dubbed himself Nathan II in 1950.

Jacksonville would name another prominent bridge after Governor Fuller Warren, former Jacksonville City Councilman and Klansman. In 1949, Warren called the Klan “covered cowards and sheeted jerks,” but only after Jax Klansman and Baptist preacher A.C. Shuler outed Warren in a sermon as a Kluxer.

Click below for the fourth story in a series of seven about the KKK in Jacksonville. On June 13th, come to Coniferous Cafe in downtown Jax at 7 pm, to hear Tim Gilmore’s talk “The Klan in Jax: Its Repugnant Rise and Hysterical Collapse.

For most of his life, he’d not realized the full traumatic effect of the Klan’s bombing of his childhood home as retaliation for his being the first black child to attend Lackawanna Elementary School.

Can anyone feel the brutality and tragedy in the landscape? Does the Klan’s hate and the Godfreys’ fear and sorrow and determination remain in the soil or the air or the trees? I can’t tell, because I can’t not know what happened here.

 

Klan in Jax, Part 3/7: J.B. Stoner’s Defense of the Klan

Click below for the third story in a series of seven about the KKK in Jacksonville. On June 13th, come to Coniferous Cafe in downtown Jax at 7 pm, to hear Tim Gilmore’s talk “The Klan in Jax: Its Repugnant Rise and Hysterical Collapse.

J.B. Stoner’s defense of the Klan in the case of bombing six year old Donal Godfrey’s house in Jacksonville was apt, for Stoner was no stranger to bombs. In 1980, he’d finally be convicted of bombing Birmingham’s Bethel Baptist Church in 1958.

He also served as defense attorney for the Klan after mass violence in St. Augustine.

Later he became the defense attorney for James Early Ray, the murderer of Martin Luther King, Jr.