Al Lawson Wants Ax Handle Sunday Site in National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Network

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., is championing a resolution to have James Weldon Johnson Park in Jacksonville included in the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Network.

With this week marking the 60th anniversary of a race riot in Jacksonville, the congressman’s office offered some of the reasons why the park should be included in the network. If Lawson’s resolution passes, this would be the first place in Florida included in the network.

james weldon johnson park jacksonville 525x420“The site, formerly Hemming Park, stood at the center of the August 27, 1960 race riot — known as Ax Handle Sunday — where a mob of some 200-middle aged and older white men armed with baseball bats and ax handles attacked a group of non-violent, peaceful protestors fighting for integration and equality,” the congressman’s office noted.

“Designating James Weldon Johnson Park as part of the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Network will pay homage to Jacksonville’s early history in America’s civil rights movement,” Lawson said on Wednesday. “This national designation would honor local foot soldiers who stood up for justice and those who continue to fight for equality.

Lawson introduced the resolution last week and has reeled in more than 25 cosponsors including Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Alcee Hastings, Donna Shalala and Darren Soto. The resolution was sent to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee last week.

Now in his second term in Congress, Lawson faces a challenge from Republican candidate Gary Adler, a businessman, in November.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced that the park would be party of the network.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

 

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