Ax Handle Saturday

Date in History: 

27 Aug 1960

1960 – Ax Handle Saturday in Jacksonville occurred on this date. Black Sit-ins began two weeks earlier when students asked to be served at the segregated lunch counter at Woolworths, Morrison's Cafeteria and other eateries in the city. They were denied service and kicked, spit at and addressed with racial slurs. This came to a head on "Ax Handle Saturday” when a group of 200 middle aged and older white men (allegedly some were also members of the Ku Klux Klan) gathered in Hemming Park armed with baseball bats and ax handles. They attacked the protesters conducting the sit-ins. The violence spread, and the white mob started attacking all African-Americans in sight. The "Boomerangs" (a black street gang) attempted to protect the demonstrators. Police, who had not intervened when the protesters were attacked, now became involved, arresting members of the Boomerangs and other black residents who attempted to stop the beatings. The events were reported on in Life Magazine and newspapers in Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa, Miami and New York. Reporters from the Jacksonville Times-Union and the Jacksonville Journal were not allowed to cover the events.


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