Jacksonville History at the George Floyd Moment
One hundred and one years after the lynching of John Morine and Bowman Cook, 60 years after Ax Handle Saturday, and eight years after the murder of Jordan Davis, Jacksonville and the United States continue struggling with history. America’s most basic promise is equal justice for everyone. In 2020, many citizens of this democracy, owing to their heritage, doubt that they can trust that promise. Asked why, they point to the record of our past.
The Jacksonville Historical Society stands with every citizen who seeks to understand and explain our past. By collecting and preserving the evidence of Jacksonville’s people and events, the JHS exists to help make sense of this sprawling, complicated city that is now almost 200 years old.
Typically, historical societies commemorate great people, great accomplishments and milestone dates. The JHS does all of that. But if that was all we did we would be mighty poor historians. Jacksonville deserves better.
The Jacksonville Historical Society strives to be faithful to the truth about this city’s past, and to share it widely. That means being inclusive and thorough in our work. It means strengthening the voices of black experiences. It means preserving the places and evidence of black Jacksonville’s past. It means holding events in diverse settings. Jacksonville history matters, and while it should be obvious, this is a moment to say it clearly: black history matters fully to Jacksonville’s history.
The JHS must keep getting better at what it does. That means walking the walk, to preserve and share authentic stories about Jacksonville. This city has terrible problems. So does every city. We believe that the greatest cities are those whose people know and take ownership of their entire past.
Unlike many places across Florida, Jacksonville is not a contrived subtropical retreat or theme park. Jacksonville is authentic. Its places and its stories are our legacy. Preserving and sharing them honestly is how we come to understand and own the city that is our 21st century inheritance.
Alan Bliss, CEO
The Jacksonville Historical Society, est. 1929
One City, Many Stories