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Local Partnership to Bring Inaugural Civil Rights Conference to Jacksonville

November 4, 2021

The conference will inspire and propel a more equitable community


Conceptualized by Rodney L. Hurst Sr., author, Black historian and Civil Rights activist, the conference will take place Feb. 3-5, 2022, at the Southbank Marriott in Downtown Jacksonville, with a special commemorative event at The Bethel Church. Virtual tickets are also available.


The Jacksonville Civil Rights Conference invites community participants and virtual attendees to gain deeper understanding and new perspectives about the Civil Rights Movement — past and present — during this transformative, three-day event. The conference will feature an eminent lineup of powerful keynote speakers; highly interactive and thought-provoking educational breakout sessions that employ learning exchange protocols led by local and national facilitator experts; exhibits and performances by a diverse array of compelling local poets and artists, and much more. Adults and youth from all backgrounds and experiences are welcomed and encouraged to attend.


“Delivering on our vision to connect the historic to the contemporary, while demonstrating a different, more inclusive and collective leadership, we want the Jacksonville Civil Rights Conference to propel action,” said Hurst. “As such, our hope is that participants will walk away from the conference with a deeper understanding of the great legacy of Black and Civil Rights histories in Jacksonville and elsewhere to inspire action and innovation for how we move forward collectively to achieve human dignity and respect for everyone.”


Showcasing the brilliant, rich legacy of Jacksonville’s Black history and legendary pioneers of change in the fight for civil rights, the Jacksonville Civil Rights Conference will educate, instruct and re-acquaint participants with civil rights movements across four key areas:

  1. Connecting historical contexts to the contemporary
  2. Building community
  3. Connecting civil rights issues to arts and culture
  4. Providing leadership development opportunities through youth and adult partnerships


Coinciding with Black History Month, the conference will feature a dynamic list of national and local speakers, including:

  • Charlie Cobb – journalist, professor, and former activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
  • Johnnetta Betsch Cole – president emerita, Spelman College and Bennett College.
  • The Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson – American academic, author, ordained minister, and radio host.
  • Freeman Hrabowski III – president, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
  • Rodney L. Hurst – author, Civil Rights activist and Black historian.
  • The Rev. Christopher McKee Jr. – senior pastor of The First Baptist Church of Oakland.
  • Chevara Orrin – diversity, equity and inclusion strategist, social justice activist, independent filmmaker, social entrepreneur and author.
  • Leon Russell – chair, National Board of Directors, NAACP.


 The conference will also include special guest G. C. Cameron, former lead singer for the Spinners and the Temptations, for an evening of classic Motown music and the music of our times. Cameron will be accompanied by local band The Katz Downstairz.


“As part of United Way of Northeast Florida’s ongoing commitment to fostering a more equitable community, we are proud to help lead the inaugural Civil Rights Conference in Jacksonville,” said Michelle Braun, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida. “In bringing the conference to life, our role is to amplify the work already happening in our community, uplift our local civil rights leaders, bring awareness to race equity and social justice issues affecting us all here in Northeast Florida, and, most of all, inspire action.”


Underscoring the importance of this work to ensure positive change and collective impact, the Jacksonville Civil Rights Conference will offer a series of programming throughout the year following the conference, including monthly learning exchanges on topics such as civil rights and equity, in addition to quarterly convenings.


Tickets for the Jacksonville Civil Rights Conference are available to purchase now at jaxcivilrightsconf.org. Tickets to attend in-person are $200, and virtual tickets are $100. Due to COVID-19 precautions, in-person attendance is limited to 200 people. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, social distancing and masks will be required. Virtual seats are available for individual or group participation.


Additional partners of the inaugural Jacksonville Civil Rights Conference include Chris Janson of The Proximity People LLC, Hope McMath of Yellow House and Tan Mayhew of Journey2Joy Events. The conference is sponsored by Miller Electric Company, United Way of Northeast Florida, CSX, The Jeff Chartrand Fund, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Florida Blue, Jacksonville Jaguars and Jessie Ball duPont Fund.


For more information, including speakers and schedule, visit jaxcivilrightsconf.org. To learn about sponsorship opportunities, contact United Way of Northeast Florida’s sponsorship manager, Tondra Hill, at tondrah@nulluwnefl.org.