Liberty Bell Award: Rodney L. Hurst Sr. a civil rights leader

He embodies the 2022 Law Day theme: “Toward a More Perfect Union.”

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  • | 4:50 a.m. May 5, 2022
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By Mary Margaret Giannini | JBA Law Day Committee chair

Rodney L. Hurst Sr. is the recipient of the Jacksonville Bar Association’s 2022 Liberty Bell Award.

The award honors someone who promotes a better understanding of the rule of law, stimulates a sense of civic responsibility and contributes to good government in the community.

In conjunction with the 2022 Law Day theme, the award also recognizes someone who helped advance the U.S. Constitution’s promise of “a more perfect union.”

Hurst’s life and work epitomize these values.  

A Jacksonville native, Hurst was president of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP and a leader in the 1960 Youth Council sit-in demonstrations. 

His award-winning book “It was never about a hot dog and a Coke!” examines the segregated structures that permeated the Jacksonville of his youth and contributed to the Ax Handle Saturday violence Aug. 27, 1960. 

Hurst authored other books addressing Jacksonville’s civil rights history and the steps needed to eradicate racism.

In addition to his work advancing civil rights, Hurst served twice on Jacksonville City Council and numerous boards and task forces in the community.

The Liberty Bell Award is the latest recognition of Hurst’s contributions to the community.

He also is a recipient of the Jacksonville Urban League’s Clanzel T. Brown Award, the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Visionary Award from the National Alumni Association of Bethune-Cookman University, the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the National Alumni Association of Edward Waters College, the President’s Award from the Jacksonville Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Jacksonville OneJax Silver Medallion Humanitarian Award.