Tag Archives: Martin Luther King

New Story: First Baptist Church

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the direction buttons at the top of the page:

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.

When Governor Claude Kirk Hopped the Fence and Took the Mic from “Black Power Agitator,” H. Rap Brown

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This ballpark has been the heart of Durkeeville for more than a century. It was Jacksonville’s municipal baseball stadium until 1954. The Negro Leagues played here. Hank Aaron “integrated” the Jacksonville Braves and won MVP, 1953.

White people had lots of guns and white cops all had guns, so black people! should get guns too. So said H. Rap Brown, who bridged the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to the Black Panthers.

Claude Kirk, 36th governor of Florida, Jax insurance salesman, hopped the fence at Durkee Field, tromped toward the pitcher’s mound, and snatched the mic from H. Rap Brown.

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.”