Civil Rights Memorial Landmarks in Jax

Once known as “the Harlem of the South”, Jacksonville has a full and rich history of accomplishments in the African American community.

Figures like Clara and Dr. Eartha White, Douglas Anderson and Joseph E. Lee helped build up the African American community through the Civil Rights movement. Jacksonville residents led the charge for integration in local baseball teams, lunch counters, public schools, government and more. Their dedication to the equal rights of all in Jacksonville can be explored and experienced on the Civil Rights Memorial Landmark tour.

Civil Rights Landmarks in drivable order:

1. Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

Address: 2445 San Diego Road.

  • The school opened in 1922, originally known as the South Jacksonville Grammar School. Douglas Anderson led the effort to convince the Duval County School Board to build a public school for African American children on the Southside of Jacksonville. Anderson also led the school’s free bus transportation service. In 1945, the school board renamed it the Douglas Anderson School.
  • A historical marker remains on site to commemorate the school.

2. J P. Small Stadium

Address: 1701 Myrtle Ave N

  • First African American baseball field in Jacksonville, constructed in 1912. First called Durkee Field, it was named for Union soldier Joseph H. Durkee. The park becomes home to the Jacksonville Red Caps of the Negro League. The Jersey City Giants held spring training at the ballpark.
  • In 1953, the team at J P. Small Stadium was racially integrated, making the Jacksonville Braves one of the first integrated teams in the South Atlantic League and the state of Florida.
  • There is a Negro League museum on site.

3. Hollywood Music Store & Clara White Mission Museum

Address: 613 W Ashley Street

  • First built in 1924. Building is now the Clara White Museum
  • Opened by Joe Higdon, this store functioned as a popular hub of activity for both professional and amateur African American musicians.
  • The Clara White Mission Museum stands as a memorial to Clara White and Dr. Eartha White, including artifacts from Eartha’s room, dining room and parlor. Founded by Eartha White, this institution offers services to African American residents the city itself would not offer. The Mission’s work will soon include an orphanage, child placement services, a tuberculosis hospital, a boys’ recreational organization, prison ministries, and feeding and clothing services.

4. Civil Rights Demonstration Marker

Address:135 W Monroe St

  • On Saturday, August 27, 1960 Youth Council demonstrators from Jacksonville’s NAACP chapter lead a sit in at the W.T. Grant Department store, originally located at West Adams and North Main Streets.
  • A violent mob descended on the demonstration, wielding ax handles and baseball bats. This event is known as Ax Handle Saturday.
  • There is a marker to commemorate this event in Hemming Park Downtown.

5. Jacksonville Black History Calendar

Address: 303 N Laura St

  • Created under the leadership of Dr. Brenda Robinson Simmons and Ms. Clovia Russell. The calendar chronicles Black life, history, culture and contributions. The publication wins the Jacksonville Historic Commission’s Historic Preservation Award and in 2016 and all of the editions are digitized in the Jacksonville Public Library.

6. The Afro

Address: 101 Union Street E.

  • African American Jacksonville resident Abraham Lincoln Lewis found the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, serving the “colored” community in the Southeast.
  • A historical marker honoring the historical figure is at 101 Union Street E.

7. Bethel Baptist Institutional Church

Address: 215 Bethel Baptist St, Jacksonville, FL 32202

  • In 1838, the Second Missionary Baptist Church of LaVilla was founded. The church served as a sanctuary for the African American community in LaVilla. The church is the city’s oldest Baptist congregation.
  • The church, still standing today, was constructed in 1904. The second iteration of the church was built after the first building perished in the Great Fire of 1901.

8. Ax Handle Saturday Mural

Address: 915 Philip Randolph Blvd

  • Saturday, Aug. 27, 1960. A group of African American teenagers were attacked while protesting for equal rights in a then-segregated Jacksonville.
  • A mural honoring the civil rights movement can be found at 915 Philip Randolph Blvd

9. Mother Midway African Methodist Episcopal Church

Address: 1456 Van Buren St, Jacksonville, FL 32206

  • The church was organized in 1865, only weeks after the Confederate Army had surrendered. It became the first black independent church in Florida.
  • While the original building is no longer standing, a marker commemorating the historic church and its continued existence is located at 1456 Van Buren St, Jacksonville, FL 32206
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