Ax Handle Saturday 2020 was fraught. 

The anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday is upon us, and for Jaxsons, it’s a good time for us to reflect on the progress that has been made here and across our nation, and to size up the challenge of what is still to be done. 

This year, we at The Jessie in downtown Jacksonville have a chance to commemorate the events of August 27, 1960 in a new and special way. In fall 2020, as part of an inclusive public art installation at The Jessie, we permanently etched the likenesses of Rodney Hurst, Sr. and his mentor Rutledge Pearson on the walls of our building, paying homage not only to their leadership of the NAACP but also their leadership on Ax Handle Saturday. In this way, we commemorate the student activists who staged their peaceful sit-in at the Woolworth’s counter, and all those who have fought for equal representation, equity, and inclusion since.

In Jacksonville, we are at an important moment, as we look to develop an inclusive approach to activating our downtown riverfront, commemorate the rich history of LaVilla, and work to make our institutions embrace greater diversity. Let the anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday remind us of the critical need to make sure these spaces are welcoming to all, and that we are building communities of belonging across our City.

Written by
Mari Kuraishi