Program Success Summer 2017 | Page 4

Rutledge Henry Pearson trom Pane 3

Pearson , Jr ., and Frank Boyce Pearson ; and his sisters , Mary Crumley and Ruth Smith , all active members of the community .) He
Freedom Fund Banquet with Charles Evers ( Medgar ' s Brother ), speaker in center with members of the Jacksonville Branch .
attended public schools , graduating from ( old ) Stanton High School in 1947 .
During his high school days , Rutledge participated in many activities with an unusual emphasis on sports and music . While at Stanton , he played first base on the undefeated 1947 State Championship Baseball Team . On finishing Stanton High School , he received a full baseball scholarship to Tillotson College in Austin , Texas . As a freshman , he was a charter member of the Student Christian Association and elected student representative to the World Religious Ecumenical Conference at the University of Kansas . He became an outstanding leader on campus , participating
as a member of the College Quartet , the College Choir , and various other activities and honors , such as President of his graduating class . In 1951 , he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in the area of Sociology from Tillotson College .
It was there at Tillotson , he met my mother , Mary , a native of Waco , Texas . They were married in 1951 . From that union , they had three children , my brothers , Rutledge , Jr ., Roderick , and me .
In the summer months , while in college , Rutledge played semiprofessional baseball with various teams . After graduating college in 1951 , he was selected to play with the Chicago American Giants baseball team , member of the Negro American League , and the
Harlem Globetrotters Baseball Team in 1952 . With a . 310 batting average , he became one of the Negro League ' s big name stars . This led to Rutledge being selected , in 1953 , to be among the first of his race , to play organized baseball in Florida . However , the Jacksonville Beach Seabirds , a farm team of the Milwaukee Braves of the National Baseball League , ( now known as the Atlanta Braves ), barred him from the playing field , the day before spring practice
Rutledge Henry Pearson Jacksonville NAACP President Patricia Pearson Guest Jacksonville , Florida Summer 2017
L__ ___________ � because of his race . This act changed his life . As a result , he directed and dedicated his life to fight in the struggle for freedom and equality for all people .
For fourteen years , Rutledge served as a social studies teacher in the Duval County School System , teaching Civics and American History at Isaiah Blocker Junior High School and later at Darnell Cookman Junior High School . It was in the classroom , through his unorthodox teaching methods , you , the student , were pushed to research , analyze , and discuss concepts of American democracy and the constitution . You left his class , understanding the importance of our system of government and feeling empowered that you could make a difference in your community . For five years , he was head of the Social Studies Department at Darnell Cookman . In addition to his teaching , he coached the baseball team of New Stanton High School , twice taking his team to state finals . Also , he served as Vice President of the Social Teachers ' Council of Duval County . He was member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and choir director of the Westminister ( Young Adult ) Choir at Laura Street Presbyterian Church ( now known as Woodlawn Presbyterian Church ).
Although his livelihood depended on the Duval County School Board , and with my mother working for the State of Florida Employment Office , and later for the City of Jacksonville Public Library , they became active members of the NAACP . You must remember , to join and participate in the NAACP , in the 1950 ' s and 60 ' s , could mean loss of your job or your life .
As a member of the NAACP , Rutledge moved quickly through the ranks . As advisor to the youth council which he fostered , he encouraged young peo-
Rutledge Henry Pearson directing the Westminister Choir at Laura St . Presbyterian Church .
ple to develop their skills and interests in community action . The Jacksonville NAACP Youth Council took action against segregation and racism through picket lines , sit-ins , and demonstrations at such stores as Woolworth , W . T . Grant and other white-owned businesses .
White resistance to the efforts of the Youth Council led to the infamous " Ax Handle Saturday Riot " of August 27 , 1960 . On that day , a crowd of white men , some from the Ku Klux Klan , held ax handles and baseball bats as they gathered in Hemming Park , in downtown Jacksonville . As a result , 50 people were injured and 62 arrested . Within weeks after the riot , white and black citizen committees started meeting to discuss how to integrate the city ' s private and public establishments . This riot was one of two riots that ignited the black community to fight against all forms of segregation and racism in Jacksonville . In 2002 , the City of Jacksonville placed a historic marker in Hemming Park to commemorate the involvement of the NAACP in the fight for freedom and justice for all citizens of Jacksonville on Ax-Handle Saturday , August 27 , 1960 .
He was elected President of the Jacksonville NAACP Branch in 1960 . Under his leadership , the Jacksonville Branch NAACP held mass meetings and involved both black and white ministers , and the community at large , in peaceful demonstrations against segregated hotels and restaurants and in " No Buying " campaigns against local department stores . NAACP membership increased from a few hundred to 2000 members by 1964 . For the next six years , the NAACP marched , protested , boycotted , and " sat-in " to wake up the community
Rutledge Henry Pearson carrying protest sign , with two members , on picket line in front of Jacksonville City Hall , July 19 , 1966 . and Jacksonville at large to the inequalities and social injustices practiced in the city .