The Hope in History Mural Project

Angie Villada

The University of North Florida’s Center for Urban Education and Policy (CUEP) and The Eastside Brotherhood collaborated with The Jacksonville Cultural Council Public Art Week to paint a mural inspired by an event in Jacksonville’s history known as the “Ax Handle Saturday.”

UNF and students from different Jacksonville high schools will do an interpretation on Ax Handle Saturday on the walls of The Eastside Brotherhood, 915 A. Philip Randolph Blvd.

Camilla Sanchez, a senior at Paxon School for Advanced Studies, one of the four students that spoke at the event feels like the opportunity to participate in the mural will be a space for her to share her ideas.

“Being able to communicate and express ideas that..people don’t usually mention because they think other people are going to disagree or feel uncomfortable,” said Sanchez. “That’s the beauty of being able to be here today and speak to such a diverse group of people.”

According to Rudy Jamison, CUEP community initiatives coordinator and UNF visiting the assistant professor of educational leadership said Ax Handle Saturday history is sometimes not told in Jacksonville’s high schools. Jamison wants to amplify the story to recognize systems of resistance that continue to exist today.

Angie Villada
Rudy Jamison, CUEP community initiatives coordinator and UNF visiting assistant professor.

“How do we resist those systems in the spirit of hope, love and courage,” Jamison asked.

In 1960, The Youth Council of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were doing a peaceful protest, by sitting at a whites-only lunch counter in downtown Jacksonville. The NAACP started being attacked and spit on. Ultimately, several white people had beaten them with ax handles and baseball bats.

The story of Ax Handle Saturday was retold by Rodney Hurst who was the president of the NAACP and 16 years old at the time.

He explained how he joined the NAACP inspired by an advisor and an American History teacher in junior high school encouraging students by telling them “If you are not a part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.Join the Youth Council NAACP.”

“Young people take the charge and deal with the racism of white America at that time,” Hurst said.

Hurst believes the mural will transform Jacksonville because for the first time Jacksonville will acknowledge Ax Handle Saturday in a positive way as the history of the community.

“My salute to the young people… and The University of North Florida to move from that beautiful quiet suburban campus on the south side of town, over to this side of town and to show and be a part of other things that go on North and West of the St. Johns River,” stated Hurst.

“You don’t know what this is going to do,” said Hurst. “But you will soon find out.”

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