In our Mural Spotlight series, we take a look at some of the creative new murals that have popped up around Jacksonville’s urban core in recent years. (Know of a mural we should feature? Email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Most of the murals that have popped up around Jacksonville in recent years have a certain bubbliness to them, utilizing bold color palettes and depicting positive or neutral subject matter. The Eastside’s “Hope and History,” however, stands in stark – and appropriate – contrast to the others.
The mural, located on the side of the Eastside Brotherhood Club building at 915 A. Philip Randolph Boulevard, depicts a series of photographs from the events of Ax Handle Saturday, when a rabid group of over a hundred ax-handle-wielding white men set siege to nonviolent Black protestors at a 1960 lunch counter sit-in near Hemming Park as local police officers sat back and watched – or, in some cases, intervened on behalf of the mob. The phrase painted across the top of the mural, “It was never about a hot dog and a Coke!” comes from the title of a book about the shameful day written by activist and former city council member Rodney L. Hurst, Sr., who himself participated in the 1960 sit-in that turned violent.
“Hope and History” came about through the advocacy of Dr. Rudy F. Jamison, Jr., and Dr. Chris Janson from UNF’s Center for Urban Education and Policy. UNF-CUEP worked with Bruce Moye, president of the Eastside Brotherhood Club, to plan a new mural for the side of the club’s building. A team of 25 local public school students was enlisted to help design and paint the mural under the guidance of local artist and Kid’s Mural Project founder Nicole Holderbaum and Jacksonville Cultural Development Corporation executive director Suzanne Pickett. Local artist Roosevelt Watson III also consulted on the project.
Additional funding and resources for the mural were provided by the Eastside Community Coalition, The Community Foundation of Northeast Florida, Florida Blue, and local attorney Wayne Hogan.
The mural was unveiled in August 2018 as part of an event commemorating the anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday. It serves as a reminder, both of the horrid events of Ax Handle Saturday and of the resiliency of the community that persevered through it.