Civil Rights

Former Jacksonville attorney Earl Johnson Jr. is pictured Thursday at James Weldon Johnson Park.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

Former Jacksonville attorney Earl Johnson Jr. is arguing in a lawsuit filed Thursday that Confederate monuments on public land, and maintained by public funding, are unconstitutional government endorsements of white supremacy. 

DeSantis speaks at Trinity Christian Academy
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

St. Johns County civil rights attorney Rook Ringer loved playing soccer as a kid, but she quit when it became clear to her that she just didn’t belong on the boy’s team. It never occurred to her that she could even ask to play with the girls. 

people mill around a plaza in front of a 60th anniversary backdrop
Sky Lebron / WJCT News

The newly named James Weldon Johnson Park in Downtown Jacksonville has been added to the African American Civil Rights Network on Thursday, the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday.

Abukar Adan / WJCT-News

Students need to stay vigilant when it comes to racial equality. That was the messge Wednesday in a speech at the University of North Florida by a key figure in U.S. Civil Rights history.

Photo via Visit St. Augustine

St. Augustine is home to one of five sites in Florida recently added to the United States Civil Rights Trail - a tourism marketing creation. The city’s historic black district is one of more than 100 locations in 15 states on the trail’s website.

Historic Markers Stolen from 2 St. Augustine Civil Rights Sites

Aug 8, 2018
ACCORD Freedom Trail /

Historic markers memorializing two sites important to St. Augustine’s civil rights movement of the 1960s were ripped off their buildings over the past few weeks.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

At Jacksonville City Hall Friday, it became official — the city’s Main Post Office in New Town is now known as the Rutledge Pearson Post Office.

Pearson was a civil rights era titan not only known for his own advocacy, but his mentoring of young activists who went on to participate in the city’s most pivotal protests.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

An independent group working at the behest of outgoing Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche has finalized a report detailing how the city can do more to leverage its civil rights history, 54 years after the U.S. Senate passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

As the deadline for a city report on civil rights history approaches its late June deadline, some civil rights history task force members are urging incoming Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman to allow the body to continue its work.

Mario De Biassi/Giorgio Lotti (Mondadori Publishers) / Wikimedia Commons

Local historian Scott A. Grant has made a name for himself, educating the public on little known facts that have shaped this region.

Exterior of Jacksonville City Hall.
Joslyn Simmons / WJCT

Incoming Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman is “amenable” to allowing the city’s Task Force on Civil Rights history to continue its work through his tenure. But not without narrowing its scope and focusing its charge.

Regina Gayle Phillips

Editor’s Note: This editorial has been submitted by Regina Gayle Phillips, director of the Lincolnville Museum, which is the largest African-American museum and cultural center in St. Augustine.

Friday on First Coast Connect our weekly Media Roundtable featured Florida Times-Union Reporter David Bauerlein, WJCT Business Analyst John Burr, Jacksonville Business Journal Editor Timothy Gibbons and WJCT contributor and board member Charles Griggs.

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Tuesday on First Coast Connect we heard about the city of Jacksonville’s Civil Rights History Task Force with authors and civil rights activists Tim Gilmore and Rodney Hurst (01:05).

Moveable Feast featured Suzi Renehan of Uncanny Biscotti (26:58).

Director of the Warrior Care Network Alex Balbir told us about the latest treatments to help veterans suffering from PTSD (33:24).  

Katie Provow and Katie Delaney told us about some recent changes at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre’s Farmers Market (46:00).               

Florida Memory/Lindsey Kilbride

North Florida Democratic Congressman Al Lawson wants Jacksonville to be nationally recognized as the birthplace of Civil Rights activist and songwriter James Weldon Johnson.

Lee Woodruff

New York Times bestselling author and CBS This Morning contributor Lee Woodruff was thrust into the position of caregiver after her husband, Bob Woodruff, was injured by a roadside bomb while reporting from Iraq for ABC's World News Tonight.

Lee cared for Bob on his long road to recovery from a traumatic brain injury, experiencing the impact that taking care of a loved one can have on a family, marriage and her own health.

The Duval County Jail has served as the main mental health facility in the region for many years. The Jacksonville Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Collaborative -- composed of mental health professionals, county officials and law enforcement officers -- met last week to begin planning a central receiving facility to help treat people with mental illness before they're put behind bars. We speak with Tara Wildes, Director of the Department of Corrections at JSO, Dr. Christine Cauffield, Executive Director of SF Health Systems, and Kristellys Zolondek, Community Engagement Specialist at LSF Health Systems.

Frank Murry via St. Augustine Government

A St. Augustine nonprofit is educating the public on the city’s role in the civil rights movement during the 1960s.

The Anniversary to Commemorate the Civil Rights Demonstrations, or ACCORD, has worked for years to preserve St. Augustine’s history surrounding civil rights.

This week Jacksonville University and the local chapter of the United Nations Association are sponsoring an open forum on climate, from greenhouse gases to sea level rise, and more. Climate experts agree that the world's overall temperature is headed upwards, but this doesn't mean every place is getting steadily and predictably warmer. Climate change is making the weather more variable, causing hotter summers, colder winters in some places, and more severe storms. What can we glean from the latest research, and in particular how is climate change expected to affect Florida with its thousands of miles of coastline? We discuss what's known and what isn't known about climate change with Dr. Jeremy Stalker, Jacksonville University ocean geologist.

The St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society plans to hold an event this week to remember the contributions Jewish leaders made to the civil rights movement.

Seventeen Jewish leaders were arrested in St. Augustine in 1964 for supporting the civil rights movement. This was the largest mass arrest of rabbis in U.S. history.

The rabbis arrived in St. Augustine after receiving a letter from Martin Luther King Junior asking them to unite in the fight for civil rights.

ASCAP / James Weldon Johnson papers, Manuscript Archives, and Rare Book Library, Robert W. Woodruff, Emory University.

A park is being planned on a historic Jacksonville site with ties to the civil-rights movement.

The Durkeeville Historical Society and city of Jacksonville plan to dedicate the birth site of Jacksonville’s Johnson brothers as the “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” Park.

The park is named after the song written by John Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson in the late 1800s, which the NAACP calls the “Black National Anthem.”

The Downtown Investment Authority is asking for community input at a public meeting this week on what should be done to redevelop the Jacksonville Landing in downtown. We discuss what could be in store for the Landing, and issues facing downtown in general, with Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor, and Doris Goldstein, Downtown Investment Authority board member.

According to census data, a little over half of the five-county First Coast's population live in food deserts, areas without easy access to grocery stores or fresh, healthy foods. The American Heart Association is currently pursuing state-level financing programs that would help address this issue for the First Coast and other affected communities in Florida by helping retailers set up shop in these areas. We discuss ways of improving access to healthy foods with Dr.

Anna Hamilton

The federal Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968 after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to fight housing discrimination and promote equal opportunity.

Last month, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid workers commemorated its passage with a visit to St. Johns County.

It was an April morning. On the trolley tour itinerary: two Civil Rights tours, one of St. Augustine’s past and another of its present, both with an eye toward the future.

Republican Party of Florida

We speak with Jacksonville mayoral candidate, businessman and former Florida Republican Party chairman Lenny Curry.

David Ramseur and Dennis Carpenter of the Jacksonville chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution join us to discuss the new Florida historical marker in Jacksonville commemorating the 1777 Revolutionary War Battle of Thomas Creek.

Flagler College

February may be the shortest month, but from Groundhog Day to Presidents Day it doesn't lack for special days of recognition. WJCT's occasional commentator Jay Solomon examines one of the observances in this edition of With All Due Respect.

Happy Canned Food Month. Surprised? Were you expecting American Heart Month? Well, it's that too, along with eight other "months" in February. Including, of course, Black History Month.

I've never heard any complaints about Heart Month or even Canned Food Month, so why do I hear negatives about Black History Month?

NASA / Wikimedia Commons

New legislation currently before Congress that would set regulations on an array of environmental hazards is being closely watched here in Jacksonville, a city consistently rated poor in air quality. The upcoming annual Northeast Florida Environmental Summit will discuss how these environmental hazards impact our community, children, and food production. We speak with Eric Hull, summit chairperson and professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, Patricia Pappan, president of the Environmental Law Society, and Dr. Quint White, marine biologist at Jacksonville University.

Wikimedia Commons

A event in St. Johns County this weekend will honor civil rights icon Stetson Kennedy.

Rhema Thompson

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the landmark legislation that outlawed discriminatory voter registrations practices. But in Florida and Duval County, voting  among minorities remains disturbingly low, say a group of local leaders and activists.

Miller_Center / Flickr

Fifty years ago Bob Moses organized volunteers to register voters in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer.