Tag Archives: KKK

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.

When the Klan bombed a six year old’s home

Click below for the second 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.

Fifty-three years later, Donal Godfrey tells me from his home in Monrovia, Liberia, that if the family had been on the side of the house where the bomb detonated deep in the night, they’d be dead.

“It blew the refrigerator through the roof,” he says. “Not too many people have survived a Klan bombing. It’s an exclusive club.”

The Klan in Jax: the first story of seven

Click below for the first 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.

In the 1920s, when Stetson Kennedy saw his first Klan parade on Jacksonville’s Main Street and Willie Chappell saw the victims of lynchings hanging in the trees off Edgewood Avenue near New Kings Road, the Klan was at its zenith.

Eartha White, the NAACP, and affiliated activists compared notes and estimated that between 3,000 and 4,000 black voters had been terrorized from or outright denied the chance to vote in Duval County’s first post-19th-Amendment election.

Reverend A.C. Shuler, pastor of Jacksonville’s former Calvary Baptist Church, predicted the Klan would pick the next American president. Shuler outed Florida Governor Fuller Warren, former Jacksonville city councilman, as a former Klansman in a sermon.