The Jacksonville Civil Rights Movement Timeline is a narrative chronology of organized civil rights efforts led by blacks and whites in Jacksonville to significantly end racism, racial discrimination based on skin color and gain equal rights under the law for Jacksonville’s black citizens.
It was compiled by a task force appointed by former City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche following an editorial by The Florida Times-Union.
As the task force report noted, “Jacksonville has a rich civil rights history that should be more widely known and celebrated, including tourism promotion efforts at the nation, state and local levels.”
Throughout the timeline, asterisks have been provided for locations where a physical marker might be placed.
1951: Eric O. Simpson founds The Florida Star by Eric O. Simpson, now Northeast Florida’s oldest black newspaper, since mainstream news of the period was hardly reliable for minority populations.
1951: Jacksonville Civil Rights activist and writer Stetson Kennedy, among several other writers, releases “We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government against the Negro People” at U.N. meetings in Paris on behalf of an American organization calling itself the Civil Rights Congress.
1951: Two black candidates, Porcher Taylor and Elcee Lucas, enter the City Council race for Ward Five against three white candidates. Since ward elections are done at-large, Taylor and Lucas have to garner a certain number of white votes to win. Though losing the election, Taylor and Lucus help establish a solid foundation for future candidates.
1952: The TV variety program “The Billy Daniels Show” first airs. Daniels was born in Jacksonville. His show is the first TV program with a black host.
1952: Porcher Taylor, editor of The Florida Tattler, seeks office as justice of the peace. His attempt is part of a political strategy to seek more minor offices that would receive less attention from whites and thus hopefully prevail in black majority wards.
1952: * Marian Anderson sings to a racially integrated audience at the Old Duval County Armory after refusing to sing if black and white audience members could not be together. Anderson’s shows in Jacksonville and Miami are the first integrated concerts in Florida since Reconstruction.
1953: * Henry “Hank” Aaron, Horace Gamer, and Felix Mantilla integrate baseball’s minor leagues when signed to the Jacksonville Braves, who play at Durkee Field. Withstanding verbal abuse and racism, forced to seek accommodations in private homes, including that of Lucille and Manuel Rivera, 19-year-old Aaron hits 22 home runs, achieves a batting average of .362 and is named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
1954: Jacksonville activist and writer Stetson Kennedy publishes “I Rode with the Ku Klux Klan,” later named “The Klan Unmasked.” The book refers to Kennedy’s informing the FBI of his infiltration of the Klan, though it fictionalizes himself as its protagonist. In later years, the Klan periodically sends Kennedy death threats at his St. Johns County home, Beluthahatchee, once setting the woods on fire around it.
1955: Norma Ruth Solomon becomes the first black female band director in the Jacksonville public schools and also was the first female band director of the Florida AM Marching Band.
1955: Porcher Taylor runs again for a seat on the City Council representing Ward Five. Taylor and his two black opponents, Isadore Singleton and Ernest Jackson, lost due to not obtaining enough white votes required by the at-large voting system.