Ax Handle Saturday

In August of 1960, members of the NAACP Youth Council in Jacksonville, FL staged two weeks peaceful of sit-ins at the segregated lunch counters of downtown department stores. On August 27th, 1960, a mob of white vigilantes wielding wooden bats and axe handles converged on downtown Jacksonville, seeking to bring the demonstrations to an end. Local police turned a blind eye to the impending violence, and the day of rioting and its aftermath shifted race relations in the city.

The digital exhibit “Freedom is Not Free: Ax Handle Saturday” brings together archival documents, newspaper accounts, and interviews with Rodney L. Hurst, president of the Youth Council.

This exhibit was curated by Antonette Jones (’22), Smathers Libraries Undergraduate Fellow in Fall ’21.

Rodney Hurst and Alton Yates at the Woolworth Lunch Counter, Jacksonville
Reporters talk with Alton Yates and Rodney Hurst during the first sit-in demonstration, August 13, 1960. Photo: M1