1. Clara White Mission 613 West Ashley Street
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. 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 that 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.
2. Mount Ararat Baptist Church 2503 Myrtle Avenue North
On March 19, 1961, at Myrtle Avenue’s Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “This is a Great Time to Be Alive” sermon at an event sponsored by the Duval County Citizens Benefit Corporation and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. The message centered around the promotion of nonviolent resistance. At the time, Jacksonville had become a racial powder keg as the African-American community had began to stand up to local segregationist. Earlier in the day, he preached at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church’s seventy-fourth anniversary. On March 20, he was back in Atlanta to attend the opening session of a seminar series presented by the Atlanta Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.
3. Isadore Singleton Residence 1353 West 33rd Street
Following his 1961 visit at Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was escorted to Isadore Singleton’s residence 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.