As the city and nation pause to remember Martin Luther King Jr., we highlight five places King spent time in during his visits to Jacksonville.
1. Operated by Eartha Mary Magdalene White, a national civil rights activist and leader in her own right, LaVilla’s Clara White Mission was one of the sites in Jacksonville where King once visited.
Once performing on Broadway as a lyric soprano under the direction of John Rosamond Johnson, White also worked with the Republican Party to form the Colored Citizens Protective League in Jacksonville, protested job discrimination with Asa Philip Randolph, established an orphanage for African-American children, a nursery for children of working mothers, a tuberculosis rest home, home for unwed mothers and a nursing home for the elderly.
In 1971, she was appointed to the President’s National Center for Voluntary Action. After her death, the Clara White Mission converted her third-floor residence into a museum. Probably one of the most overlooked significant sites in Downtown Jacksonville, the museum is free and includes room and furniture Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once used.
Because it was unsafe for King to spend multiple nights in a single location, organizers typically moved him from one accommodation to another on a regular basis.
2. Following a 1961 visit at Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church, King was escorted to Isadore Singleton’s home on West 33rd Street in Moncrief to meet with local African-American civic leaders.
A lasting impact of King’s visit was that it helped inspire African-American’s to continue their quest for local political offices. In following years, Singleton attempted but was unsuccessful in his bids for a seat on city council. However, in 1967, Mary Eleanor Littlejohn Singleton (Singleton’s widow) and Sallye B. Mathis, became the first black women elected to the Jacksonville City Council.
To read about three additional places Kings visited or stayed in Jacksonville, visit ModernCities.com.