Meet Rodney L. Hurst, Sr., and Rudy F. Jamison, Jr. – Winners of the 2020 Grand Prize for Non-Fiction!
Rodney L. Hurst, Sr., and Rudy F. Jamison, Jr. are the recipients of the 2020 Grand Prize Fiction award for their book, “Never Forget Who You Are: Conversations about Racism and Identity Development“. They also took home the Gold Medal in the Humanities category!
A Note from Rodney L. Hurst, Sr., and Rudy F. Jamison, Jr.:
Racism is real, it’s not just some pseudo-situated reality imagined by a non-White populace. Racism is an incessant atmosphere that pressures thought, decision, and behavior, particularly for Black folk. Racism forces Black folk to ‘make a decision,’ to choose sides, which oftentimes compromise their beliefs and values. The idea that one’s race is better than another has become an existential absolute, a systemic institution of hegemonic, hierarchical order. For those in lower tiers of this order, overcoming an inferior societal posture means adamantly opposing, or passively accepting, the status quo.
America’s largest domestic terrorist attack was in Oklahoma, and no, it was not at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. It was in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. “Black Wall Street”[i] was an area in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was home to Black Americans and Native Americans who had become wealthy from oil discoveries. The resentment among whites against this community was a powder keg awaiting a spark. That spark came with a sexual assault allegation against a Black teenager named Dick Rowland. When the Tulsa Massacre concluded, more than 35 blocks of the city were destroyed, along with more than 1,200 homes, and some 300 people dead, mostly Black. Ten thousand people were left homeless. For two days beginning May 31, 1921, White mobs set fire to hundreds of Black-owned businesses and homes in Greenwood. More than 300 black people were killed. More than 10,000 Black people were left homeless, and 40 blocks were left smoldering. Survivors recounted black bodies loaded on trains and dumped off bridges into the Arkansas River and, most frequently, tossed into mass graves. Talking Race is uncomfortable and intimidating, and talking Racism, even more so.
This factual occurrence is rarely discussed in American history. This act of domestic terrorism is rarely mentioned or taught in schools. It is important because the Tulsa Massacre is founded in the disrespect of Racism and the violent reaction by White America to Black America’s quest for equality, human dignity, and respect. Like America’s incomplete, dishonest, and Racist history, Racism is also misaligned in the annals of America.
Never Forget Who You Are: Conversation about Racism and Identity Development by Rodney L. Hurst, Sr. and Dr. Rudy F. Jamison Jr. examines uncomfortable conversations about Racism, through their eyes as Black males, one 77 years of age, and one 52 years of age, andbrings the conversations about Race and Racism front and center. It is not a read you will soon forget… and it asks and answers the questions, which is worse – having uncomfortable conversations about Racism or being the targets of Racism? If we, as a country and community, are going to address America’s greatest sin, we must be deeper relationship with difference and this begins with empathically understanding who we are, where we are situated in this socio-cultural order of race, and having the uncomfortable conversations about systemic racism, White supremacy, and systems of oppression. Love!
ABOUT RODNEY L. HURST, SR.
Rodney Lawrence Hurst, Sr. is a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather, a widower, a cancer survivor, a civil rights activist, a Black historian, a United States Air Force veteran, and the author of three award-winning books–It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®! A personal account of the 1960 sit-in demonstrations in Jacksonville, Florida, and Ax Handle Saturday, Unless WE Tell It…It Never Gets Told! and now, Never Forget Who You Are: Conversations about Racism and Identity Development, which he co-authored with Dr. Rudy F. Jamison Jr.
Hurst, a native of Jacksonville and a 1960 high school graduate of segregated Northwestern Junior-Senior High School in Jacksonville, Florida, was the sixteen-year-old President of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP and was one of the leaders of the 1960 sit-in demonstrations in downtown Jacksonville. His book, It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®! recounts with clarity the segregated civic, the segregated political, and the segregated educational climate of Jacksonville Florida in the 1950’s and the 1960’s, and the 1960 Jacksonville sit-ins and Ax Handle Saturday. Due to the black-out of local news about these important civil rights events in Jacksonville’s Civil Rights History, his firsthand account book is the only historically accurate description of those sit-ins and the violence of Ax Handle Saturday. It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®! is the winner of several awards.
His second book Unless WE Tell It…It Never Gets Told! published in January 2016 relates stories of notable Blacks of Jacksonville who impacted this city and the country, relates stories of Jacksonville Civil Rights History, and relates stories of the historical fight against Racism. Hurst’s leadership as a teenager during the Civil Rights Movement is also the subject of a chapter in the Scholastic book, Ten True Tales: Young Civil Rights Heroes written for Third Graders to Seventh Graders and ages 8 to 12.
His most recent book, Readers View Award Winner, Never Forget Who You Are: Conversations about Racism and Identity Development, which he co-authored with Dr. Rudy F. Jamison Jr. discusses Racism and Identity Development through Mr. Hurst’s eyes and his co-author, Dr. Rudy Jamison’s eyes.
In addition to his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Hurst served two four-year terms on the Jacksonville City Council, and is responsible for a number of “firsts” in the Jacksonville Community: he was one of the thirteen original national recipients of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Television Fellowships; he was the first Black to co-host a television talk show in Jacksonville on PBS Channel WJCT; he was the first Black male hired at the Prudential South Central Home Office in Jacksonville, Florida; and he was the first Black to serve as the Executive Director of the State of Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board. A Silver Life Member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Hurst is involved with several Boards and Agencies in the Jacksonville Community. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force.
Hurst speaks extensively on Civil Rights, Black History, and Racism. Hurst served on the Jacksonville Civil Rights Task Force and chaired the Sub-Committee on the Civil Rights timeline for Jacksonville, which was codified by the Jacksonville City Council. Hurst speaks extensively on Civil Rights, Black History, and Racism. He was the featured speaker at the City of Jacksonville’s 23rd Annual Martin Luther King Breakfast, the featured speaker at the Nassau County Annual Martin Luther King Breakfast, the featured speaker for the Brevard County NAACP Branch Freedom Fund Dinner, and the featured speaker at Deltona’s Black History luncheon. Hurst was also the keynote speaker at the Induction Ceremony of Harriette and Harry T. Moore’s Induction into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
Hurst nominated both his mentor and civil rights icon Rutledge H. Pearson, and his longtime friend, and civil rights icon Dr. Arnett Girardeau to the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Pearson was inducted posthumously in 2016; and Dr. Girardeau was inducted in 2017. Hurst serves as an adviser to the Center for Urban Education and Policy at the University of North Florida.
He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Visionary Award given by the National Alumni Association of Bethune-Cookman University, the Outstanding Alumnus Award by the National Alumni Association of Edward Waters College, the President’s Award by the President of the Jacksonville Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Jacksonville, Florida OneJax Silver Medallion Humanitarian Award.
Hurst and his late wife Ann (June 24, 1945-September 5, 2016) would have celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary on December 10, 2016. Hurst has two sons, Rodney II (Vandlyn), and Todd. Rodney II is the father of two daughters, Marquiette (Mar-Kita) and Jasmine. Hurst’s eldest granddaughter Marquiette, and her husband Kyle are the parents of Everly Ann, his first great-grand. His youngest granddaughter Jasmine is a graduate of the Alvin Ailey Dance School in New York, where she lives. He worships at First Baptist Church of Oakland, here in Jacksonville, and The Bethel Church, also in Jacksonville.
ABOUT RUDY F. JAMISON, JR.
Dr. Rudy F. Jamison Jr. is a native of Jacksonville, FL and proud graduate of Jean Ribault Sr. High School, Florida A&M University, and University of North Florida. Dr. Jamison currently works as faculty and Assistant Director of the Center for Urban Education and Policy in University of North Florida’s College of Education and Human Services. His academic interests include: Black leadership development, community organizing, diversification of teacher education, culturally responsive teaching/leadership, career mobility, developmental relationships, self-monitoring, and nigrescence. Dr. Jamison is committed to advancing consciousness around equity, racism, and social justice in ways that assess, challenge, and support a more virtuous humanity.