JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As Jacksonville's 200th birthday celebration continues Saturday with a downtown street festival, the city's often strained race relations will be on display as well.
A community group will stage a protest at City Hall the same day to focus public attention on Confederate monuments that haven't been removed, as well as what members and other organizations view as insufficient racial representation in the Jacksonville Historical Society's bicentennial planning.
"There is a lot of history they do not want to make public," Wells Todd, spokesman for Take 'Em Down Jax, said.
Among the groups not included in 200th-birthday planning were two prominent civil rights groups — the Jacksonville chapter of the NAACP and the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, according to their leaders.
Good-faith effort to include diverse groups
NAACP President Isaiah Rumlin said he expected the group to receive an invitation "out of respect." But he said he was "not surprised" that the group failed to receive one.
The Black community — about one-third of the city population — being ignored in such decision-making processes is indicative of the state of local race relations, coalition President Ben Frazier said.
"This is nothing new," he said.
Planners of major city events "routinely ignore us and put us on the back burner," he said. "There are clear signs of white privilege, disrespect and racial discrimination. … Black shareholders should be actively recruited and invited to the table for all future planning of city events."