Statement on Shooting Targeting Black Neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida

The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is horrified by the shooting in a Black neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida, the senseless murder of three people, and the physical and emotional wounding of so many more. This attack at a discount chain store was perpetrated by a young man who, it appears, initially targeted a historically Black university and left behind three manifestos documenting his hateful, racist ideology. Law enforcement reports that he intended to murder Black people.

The shooting occurred on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached about the promise of America’s founding ideals, freedom, equality, and justice for all, and said those ideals did not yet apply to Black Americans. He said he dreamed of an America where people are not “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Sadly, we are still working to fulfill Dr. King’s dream sixty years later.

The Museum’s current special exhibition, Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, teaches us about the back-and-forth process of our country’s journey to live up to these ideals for Black citizens, leading up to the civil rights movement. It provides important insights on the deep-rooted prejudice and discrimination against Black Americans with which our country still grapples, but also teaches us about amazing individuals who advocated for their rights and to bring about change.

We know from studying the past that change is possible. We know that Dr. King’s vision inspired change in our country and moved us closer to the ideal America. However, there is much work left to do.

Upstanders throughout our history have worked to combat hatred, prejudice, and indifference. We must continue to speak out against hateful ideologies and actions, redouble our efforts to teach about their dangers, and continue our work to inspire Upstander behavior. We take hope in the knowledge that because hatred is learned behavior, it can be unlearned. At the Museum, our dream is to reach all the youth in our community with lessons to help them understand their responsibility to stand up to racism and inequality.

The mission of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference. To learn more, visit www.dhhrm.org.

– Mary Pat Higgins, President and CEO
– Lee Michaels, Board Chair

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