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Black Jacksonville residents speak out against Trump’s visit on ‘Ax Handle Saturday’

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sixty years ago, Black residents of Jacksonville, Florida stood up against racism in their community. Now, President Donald Trump is set to visit and accept the Republican presidential nomination on the anniversary of the historic event to the displeasure of surviving participants in Ax Handle Saturday.

READ MORE: Trump insists he ‘aced’ recent cognitive tests; White House won’t confirm news

NBC News reports Ax Handle Saturday is a special day of remembrance for the Black community in Jacksonville. On the inaugural day, August 27, 1960, 33 Black teenagers held a peaceful protest, sitting in at a whites-only lunch counter. They were attacked by 200 angry white men dressed in Confederate gear, carrying ax handles and bats.

Rodney Hurst, one of the teens who lead the protest, managed to resist physical harm yet did not escape the mental trauma of the violent racist attack. Now 76 years old, Hurst remains a Jacksonville resident and has experienced a life of activism, as well as work as a historian and author.

He informed NBC News of a commemorative event held every decade, but this year, the event aims to counter the Republican convention.

“Our commemoration will be outside. We will wear masks and we encourage social distancing,” he said to NBC News. “We will represent an interesting contrast on a day that white racist thugs attacked teenagers with bats and ax handles.”

He continued, “We will highlight the cowardly way whites in the South dealt with our quest for Blacks’ seeking human dignity and respect.”

READ MORE: Juneteenth, Reconstruction, #BlackLivesMatter: more than an IG meme

“The best example I can give about this is when he was planning to speak in Tulsa on Juneteenth,” said Dr. Rudy Jamison, assistant director of urban education and community initiatives at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville to NBC News.

She continued, “Trump claimed he made Juneteenth ‘famous.’ I don’t know about that, but I know a lot of people have not heard about Ax Handle Saturday,”

Anna Coleman, a resident and business owner in Jacksonville told NBC News that she has only recently learned of the fateful events and still believes the set-up is untimely.

“The Black community has a never-ending fight for justice and equality, so to say that this is not the time is an understatement,” Coleman remarks.

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