Production students tell Jacksonville’s history

Kaitlyn Bowers, Video Director

Jacksonville has a deep, rich history, but how much of it do you really know? 

Uncovering Jax, a documentary project created in partnership with the University of North Florida and the Florida Times-Union, is working to inform the citizens of Jacksonville on the history of their city, from the good to the bad. 

The project was initially started by Paula Horvath, retired professor at UNF and current editorial writer of The Florida Times-Union. Horvath was interested in telling the little-known stories of Jacksonville, specifically involving the black history of the city. Now, the project is spearheaded by Professor Frank Goodin of the School of Communication. 

“Just to be able to unearth and uncover these stories that are really significant, to talk about them in a way that brings the entire city together, is a way to bring everyone together and to acknowledge a lot of the great things that have happened that all cultures have contributed to,” said Goodin.

Uncovering Jax originally premiered in 2018 and featured documentaries focusing on Jacksonville’s first black millionaire, the gentrification of an important neighborhood in the city, and several other important historical topics. This year, the documentary topics include the history of lynchings in Jacksonville and the period of time that Ray Charles spent in the city.

The documentaries were shot and produced by Goodin’s own production students. For some of these students, this was the first film they ever created. This applies to senior Alex Rodriguez, who produced a documentary on Charlie “Hoss” Singleton, an important singer-songwriter from the Jacksonville area. 

“It was a really cool experience though, ‘cause I got to interview his son in person,” said Rodriguez. “And it was really amazing to be able to tell his father’s story, even if other, more important people have already told it.”

Rodriguez’s documentary is just one of seven that will premiere tonight at 7 pm. You can tune into the premiere here.

“For me, being a part of an effort that gets people talking about these realities is really important and I just want to do what I can to promote cultural unity and to bring the city together so we can all respect each other culturally,” said Goodin. “I’m just happy to be contributing to this project.”