Donald Trump’s Jacksonville Speech Takes Place On 60th Anniversary Of KKK Attack On City’s Black Activists
Donald Trump announced this week that he will deliver his Republican National Convention speech in Jacksonville, Florida, on August 27 — a date that critics point out is the 60th anniversary of a brutal KKK attack on black residents in that city.
As the New York Times reported, the president’s nomination acceptance speech, which had originally been scheduled to be delivered Charlotte, North Carolina, was moved this week to Florida to accommodate Trump’s demand for an arena without social-distancing rules. This demand created tension with officials in North Carolina and prompted the Republican National Committee (RNC) to move the event to a 15,000-seat arena in Jacksonville.
The report added that the event will take place on the 60th anniversary of “one of the darkest days in the city’s history,” when a white mob organized by the local Ku Klux Klan attacked black civil rights activists sitting at a whites-only lunch counter. Before the attack, members of the mob hid ax handles in the bushes of a nearby park and use the handles to beat activists, leading the day to be known as “Ax Handle Saturday.”
As the report noted, the city’s white mayor suppressed news about the attacks, and it was not until 2001 that the day was officially commemorated with a marker where the attack took place. A Confederate statue had stood on that spot until 2001, but it was removed by Republican Mayor Lenny Curry.
While the report noted that it was not clear if the historical significance of the day was known to the RNC and Trump’s campaign when the event was moved from Charlotte, this is the second time in a matter of days that Trump has come under fire for what critics see as racially insensitive campaign scheduling.
This week, the Trump campaign announced plans for its first in-person rally since early March, when stay-at-home orders first went in place and Trump was forced to shutter his campaign events. The event was to be held on June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a date and location that led to much criticism. That date commemorates what is known as Juneteenth, the day that slaves were granted their freedom. Tulsa was a controversial pick for an event on that day, as the Oklahoma city was the site of one of the nation’s worst acts of racial violence when white mobs attacked and killed hundreds of black residents there in 1921, burning down entire neighborhoods and targeting black businesses.
Like the speech in Jacksonville, it was not clear if the Trump campaign knew the historic significance of the date or the city when planning the event.