Florida Humanities Speakers Directory

2021 Florida Humanities Speakers Directory

Engaging Speakers, Compelling Topics, and Thought-provoking Discussions

Welcome to the Florida Humanities’ Speakers Directory, a curated collection of the Sunshine State’s best and brightest experts, scholars, journalists, folklorists and more, poised to bring engaging presentations and conversations right to your local community.

Florida Humanities is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Partnering with nonprofit organizations across the state, Florida Humanities funds a wide variety of grants and public programming that explores Florida’s rich history and culture.

How to use this directory:

Using this directory, organizations can connect with these experts to bring a wide variety of compelling humanities programming to their community.  Speakers can engage the public is several ways:

Florida Talks

Speakers may be asked to give a program for one of our Florida Talks partners. Florida Talks offers nonprofit organizations an easy, inexpensive way to host informative and thought-provoking presentations across the state.

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Community Project Grants

Speakers may be contacted to participate as a scholar, presenter, or panelist for a Florida Humanities-funded Community Project Grant. These grants support a variety of humanities programming based on the specific needs of a community.

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Museum on Main Street

Speakers may be asked to give a program that complements the theme of one of our Museum on Main Street exhibits. These exhibits travel to small and underserved communities and explore a variety of humanities topics.

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Please Note: Speakers on this directory have agreed to a capped speaking fee of no more than $300 for a Florida Humanities-funded event. This fee does not include travel, so be sure to discuss those details as you plan your event.

2021 Speakers Directory

Photo of Dr. Vincent Adejumo Vincent Adejumo Scholar

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Contact Number:
813-787-2530

Notes

Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
  • Virtual

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About the speaker

Dr. Vincent Adejumo is currently a Senior Lecturer in the African American Studies program at UF teaching Intro to African American Studies, The Wire, Mentoring At-Risk Youth, Black Wall Street, and Black Masculinity.

Programs Available

Black Masculinity in Florida

An exploration of the history of race in the United States, how race impacts specific events such as the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting and its implications on other issues, including standardized testing, school suspension, and the criminal justice system.

The Destruction of Rosewood

A critical analysis of Rosewood, a predominantly black community destroyed in 1923 during a racially motivated attack, and other majority-black cities in Florida within the context of group economics and how that tradition among African Americans was destroyed.

Photo of Basma Alawee Basma Alawee Activist, Writer

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Contact Number:
407-879-0170

Notes

Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
  • Virtual

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About the speaker

Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, Basma came to the U.S. with her husband as a refugee in 2010, leaving behind her career as an engineer with the Ministry of Oil within the Government of Iraq. As a refugee and activist, her stories and activism have been featured in the media. Most recently, she was nominated to be one of the Athena40 women in the world who are leading change and was the recipient of the 2019 OneJax Humanitarian Award. She was also elected the Florida delegate for the UNHCR Refugee Congress and is a board member of USAHello (formerly, Refugee Center Online) and many other nonprofits. Currently, she is the State Refugee Organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition and resides in Jacksonville. Basma is the Executive Director and Co-founder of WeaveTales.

Programs Available

Refugees Stories

Humanize the stories of refugees by giving them a voice and to correct misconceptions about refugees by spreading the truth in their own words. We also document, preserve, and share the stories of refugees around the world for advocacy to support global efforts in peace-building and freedom of the press to help refugees find a home. We seek to let known the untold stories of millions of refugees around the world to bring justice, equity, and peace in helping refugees find a safe and permanent home.

Photo of Dr. Sharon Austin Sharon Austin Scholar

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Contact Number:
352-273-3060

Notes

Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
  • Virtual

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About the speaker

Sharon Austin is an American political scientist, currently a professor of political science at the University of Florida, where she was also a longtime Director of the African-American Studies Program. Austin is a prominent scholar of American politics with specialties in African-American studies, political participation, and both urban and rural local politics.

Programs Available

African American Politics

An examination of the social and political relationships among African Americans and people of black Caribbean descent. Other topics include Haitian political behavior, general African American political behavior, and the history and politics of black women. Presentation tailored to audience interest.

Photo of Carrie Sue Ayvar Carrie Sue Ayvar Storyteller

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Contact Number:
305-778-7998

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About the speaker

An internationally celebrated Storyteller and Teaching Artist, Carrie Sue Ayvar is the recipient of multiple awards recognizing her service and leadership and her dedication to the art of storytelling and education. She learned her love of history and the art of storytelling from her grandparents here in Florida before moving to Mexico as a teenager. As a Chautauqua Scholar, she intensely researched first-person historical portrayals present compelling and exciting opportunities to “meet” some extraordinary women who impacted their communities and the history of Florida. Returning to Florida in 1979, she now lives in the very same house where she first learned to tell stories. Her bilingual blend of traditional, historical & personal tales connect the people, languages, and cultures of Florida. She still believes, just as her grandfather told her, “If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life.”

Programs Available

Doc Anna: Swamp Doctor of Florida

Currently celebrating 25 years as a Chautauqua Scholar and Portrayal Artist, tonight, in costume and in character, Carrie Sue Ayvar (Eye-bar) will “become” Dr. Anna Darrow, a pioneering female physician on the Florida frontier. In 1909, she became only the 2nd woman doctor licensed in the state. Sometimes called the Petticoat Doctor of the Everglades, she often traveled alone braving swampland, alligators, venomous snakes, and dangerous outlaw gangs in order to heal the sick, nurse the wounded and deliver babies. There will be a Q & A near the end of the program. Meanwhile, come join us, as we pretend to go back in time, and visit with the doctor herself. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Anna Darrow, Swamp Doctor of Florida.

Rose Weiss: Mother of Miami Beach

Miami Beach is now world-renowned but in 1919, Miami Beach was not much more than a sparsely populated sandbar. Women did not yet have the right to vote and Jews like herself were not welcome in most of Miami Beach when Rose Weiss first arrived. With persistence and a smile, this feisty, compassionate Jewish mother began at once to transform it and along the way created jobs, fought prejudice, helped the needy, gave the city its motto, and even designed the city’s flag. A first-person historical portrayal.

Stories of Florida—Con Sabor!

Our stories have never been the same since Ponce De Leon first arrived on our shores in 1513. Flowing seamlessly between Spanish and English, these personal, historical and traditional Florida tales takes the audience on a journey into the imagination that connects the people and cultures of Florida, con un poco de sabor Latino—with a bit of Latino flavor!

Photo of Dr. Uzi Baram Uzi Baram Scholar

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Contact Number:
941-342-4342

Notes

Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
  • Virtual

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About the speaker

Uzi Baram is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the New College Public Archaeology Lab at New College of Florida. Professor Baram’s academic efforts focus on the politics of the past in the Eastern Mediterranean and public archaeology in Sarasota/Manatee. He has published and contributed to four edited volumes, dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters and delivered many conference papers and on topics ranging from the archaeology of the Ottoman Empire to marketing heritage and given public lectures based on archaeological insights into heritage. Since 2004, he has been involved with recovering and disseminating the history and heritage of Angola on the Manatee River, an early 19th-century maroon community; the focus on the courage of the freedom-seeking people who found refuge on Gulf Coast Florida and liberty in the Bahamas animate his presentations.

Programs Available

Archaeology of Freedom: The Heritage Found at Angola on the Manatee River

What is the meaning of freedom? The Underground Railroad is famous for the routes facilitating freedom from enslavement in the United States to freedom in Canada. But the quest for freedom did not only go north; many self-emancipated and headed south, to Spanish La Florida. Previously known havens of freedom in Florida include Fort Mose by St. Augustine and Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola River; another haven is found under today’s Bradenton. Excavations are revealing everyday life for the freedom-seeking people at Angola on the Manatee River. The slide-illustrated presentation lays out the history and heritage for Angola and its implications for our understanding of what it means to be free.

Photo of Cynthia Barnett Cynthia Barnett Journalist, Writer

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Contact Number:
352-376-4440

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Program format(s) available:

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About the speaker

Cynthia Barnett is an award-winning environmental journalist who has reported on water and climate change around the world. Her new book, The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans, is out this summer from W. W. Norton. “The seashell might seem a decidedly small foundation for a book,” The New York Times wrote in its summer reading recommendations, “but Barnett’s account remarkably spirals out, appropriately, to become a much larger story about the sea, about global history and about environmental crises and preservation.”

Barnett is also the author of Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the 2016 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Her previous books are Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, which articulates a water ethic for America, and Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. which won the gold medal for best nonfiction in the Florida Book Awards and has been listed by The Tampa Bay Times as one of the top 10 books that every Floridian should read.

Barnett has written for National Geographic, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Tampa Bay Times and many other publications. Her numerous journalism awards include a national Sigma Delta Chi prize for investigative magazine reporting and eight Green Eyeshades, which recognize outstanding journalism in 11 southeastern states. She is also Environmental Journalist in Residence at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, and a fifth-generation Floridian raising a sixth generation in Gainesville.

Programs Available

The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and The Fate of the Oceans

The human fascination with seashells is primal. Archeological evidence suggests that Neanderthals collected cockle shells on the coast of what is modern Spain, perhaps giving preference to those they found beautiful. Here in Florida, the Calusa built “great cities of shell” on the southern coasts, later carted off for road fill. In the 1950s, the nation burned with seashell fever only a Florida beach vacation could cure. But legend had it the best shells were found at the Georgia border; that’s about where cars headed north started to stink, and families had to pull over and dump their shells on the side of the road. In her new program The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans, award-winning environmental author Cynthia Barnett explores the long, rich and surprisingly profound relationship between humans and seashells. Traveling from Florida to the Bahamas to the Maldives, West Africa, and beyond, Barnett uncovers the ancient history of shells as global currency, their use as religious and luxury objects, and the rarely appreciated but remarkable creatures that make them. For eons, shell and their mollusk makers have reflected humanity’s shifting attitudes toward and precarious place in the natural world. While shells reveal how humans have altered the climate and the sea—down to its very chemistry—they are also sentinels of hope for alternative energy, carbon capture, and other solutions that lie beneath the waves. With her engaging account of an aspect of nature and culture long hidden in plain sight, Barnett illuminates the beauty and wonder of seashells as well as the human ingenuity and scientific solutions they represent for our warming world.

State of Water, State of Mind

Water defines us as Floridians no matter where we live: Beaches surround us on three sides. Rivers and streams flow for ten thousand miles through the peninsula. We’re blessed with nearly eight thousand lakes and a thousand more freshwater springs – the largest concentration of artesian springs in the world. Amid a scourge of pollution half a century ago, the United States and Florida passed bedrock water legislation with the Clean Water Act at the federal level and the state’s sweeping water and land-management laws of 1972, some of the strongest in the country. As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of these laws and celebrate their triumphs, our waters face new challenges, from increasing algal blooms to warming and sea-rise. In her program State of Water, State of Mind, Florida-based environmental author Cynthia Barnett shows audiences how one of the most water-rich states in the nation has come to face water scarcity and quality woes—and how we can live differently. With a shared ethic for water, Floridians come together to use less and pollute less. We live well with water today, in ways that don’t jeopardize fresh, clean water for our children, ecosystems, and businesses tomorrow. She reflects on water as Florida’s defining element—and how citizens can get more engaged with our state’s most precious resource.

RAIN: A history for stormy times

A natural and cultural tour of RAIN, from the torrents that filled the oceans four billion years ago to the modern story of climate change. A wellspring of life, rain also has a place in our souls. In an ancient perfume region in northern India, villagers bottle the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth, while in Manchester, England, and America’s Seattle, leaden skies helped inspire Morrissey and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. The scents and songs capture rain in small ways. Humans have long been convinced we could control the atmosphere with ideas much bigger, from the Roman rain god Jupiter Pluvius to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straightjacket the Mississippi River. Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. Changing rainfall patterns are some of the earliest tremors of our warming globe; scientists expect Florida will continue to face more-extreme rains, but also more-severe droughts, as Earth and its oceans continue to heat up. Armed with computer models looking forward, there is also much to learn from looking back. Too much and not enough, rain is an experience we share. Its history has much to tell us about coming together to live more ethically with water – and adapt to the stormy times ahead.

Photo of Dr. Martha Bireda Martha Bireda Scholar, Reenactor

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Contact Number:
941-639-2914

Notes

Program format(s) available:

  • Virtual

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About the speaker

Martha R. Bireda, Ph.D., is Director of the Blanchard House Museum of African History and Culture, located in Punta Gorda, Florida. For over 30 years, Dr. Bireda has consulted, lectured, and written about social issues related to race, gender, class, power, and culture. Dr. Bireda’s articles will explore and examine critical issues past and present that impact our global society. She believes that awareness and recognition of the universality of social issues can contribute to the resolution of problems that affect all societies, and confirm our human connectivity. Dr. Bireda is the author of the forthcoming book, A Time For Change: How White Supremacy Culture Hurts All Americans.

Programs Available

The Jim Crow Era

This program provides an overview of the Jim Crow era and its continued influence in the collective American mind. Jim Crow laws and customs will be examined; stereotypical images of blacks presented. The Jim Crow laws that existed in Florida will be discussed.

Pandemics and Protests: America in 1919 and 2020

In this program, the ways in which the social climate of America in 2020 mirrors that of 1919 will be explored. The similarities and differences, as well as the factors influencing the social conflicts in each year, will be examined.

Powerful Doctoring Women

Grannies and midwives were powerful “doctoring women” who provided the foundation of healthcare for enslaved African Americans in Florida. Listen, learn, taste, smell, and touch as one such woman named Pearl shares the plants and herbs that kept enslaved Africans healthy on the Bellamy plantation.

The Little Town That Unity Built

Punta Gorda, a small town on Florida’s Southwest coast, has the distinction of having the state’s second oldest population. The town has another lesser known but significant distinction as well. Punta Gorda has been characterized as having a “unique sociology” due to its early biracial settlement and development. In this lecture, we will examine the five factors which contributed to this biracial unity and to a “shared prosperity” experienced by all residents despite the presence of Jim Crow. As a result, the beginning of Punta Gorda serves as a model for demonstrating the power of biracial unity.

Photo of Kevin Boldenow Kevin Boldenow Photographer

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Contact Number:
561-722-2715

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About the speaker

Kevin Boldenow’s life-long passion for photography began the moment he picked up his parents’ Brownie camera. Since that time, Kevin has built a career as a professional photographer specializing in 35mm, medium format, and digital landscape and figurative imagery. In addition to his native Michigan, Kevin has lived in five states, including Texas, New Jersey, and Virginia, before moving to Florida in 1996.

Programs Available

Vanishing Florida – A Visual and Literal Story of Florida’s Lost Wilderness and History

Through the use of historical information, poetry, and famous quotes, Boldenow captures Florida’s diminishing wilderness both visually and literally. It’s part of his current project and exhibits titled “Vanishing Florida – A Visual and Literal Story of Florida’s Lost Wilderness and History.”

Photo of J. Michael Butler J. Michael Butler Historian, Author

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Contact Number:
904-819-6275

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Program format(s) available:

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About the speaker

Dr. J. Michael Butler is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of History at Flagler College, where he has taught since August 2008. He received both his Masters and Doctorate in History from the University of Mississippi, where he specialized in 20th century Southern history with an emphasis on the civil rights movement. Dr. Butler co-authored Victory After the Fall: The Memories of Civil Rights Activist H. K. Matthews, and has published numerous essays in various academic journals. His latest manuscript is titled Beyond Integration: The Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida, 1960-2000.

Programs Available

Police Brutality and Confederate Imagery: The Black Freedom Struggle in One Florida County

A close examination of events in Escambia County in the 1970s demonstrates how—and why—the struggle against segregation in Florida continued well after the Civil Rights movement ended in the 1960s.

State, Local, and National Campaigns: The Civil Rights Movement in Florida

The idea that Florida did not experience the tumult of other Deep South states during the Civil Rights Movement is a popular misconception. Florida exceptionalism in relationship to the black freedom struggle is placed in its proper
regional and national perspective.

The Magnificent Drama: Martin Luther King in St. Augustine

The civil rights movement in St. Augustine drew national attention when Martin Luther King, Jr. visited twice in 1964, sparking marches, arrests, and clashes between protesters and police on the tourist-lined beaches of St. Augustine. Local and national objectives complemented and contradicted each other in ways that affect race relations today.

Photo of John Capouya John Capouya Author, Pop-culture Scholar

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Contact Number:
917-734-1883

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Program format(s) available:

  • Virtual

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About the speaker

John Capouya is an author and professor of journalism and non-fiction writing at the University of Tampa. During his career in journalism he worked at Newsweek, The New York Times, SmartMoney, and New York Newsday. His nonfiction books include the biography Gorgeous George and, most recently, Florida Soul.

Programs Available

Florida Soul

The people and the music that define Florida Soul, from Ray Charles, to Sam and Dave, James Brown to Bobby Purify and many more. This rich but under-appreciated musical heritage comes to life in music, words, and vintage photos.

Respect: Soul Music and the Civil Rights Movement

Words, images and stirring music tell the story of the soul music that became the soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement: Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Sam and Dave, James Brown, and Florida‘s own Timmy Thomas (“Why Can’t We Live Together’’).

Photo of Dr. James Clark James Clark Scholar

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Contact Number:
407-810-5080

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Jim Clark is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Central Florida History Department. He has emerged as one of Florida’s leading historians, noted for his books and research. He is the author of nine books, and the editor of a three-volume anthology of Florida Literature.

Programs Available

Presidents in Florida

George Washington had nothing but trouble with Florida. Thomas Jefferson tried to steal it. Abraham Lincoln hoped it would win him re-election. Three men came to Florida to fight and ended up in the White House. Franklin Roosevelt was nearly assassinated before he could be inaugurated and quick thinking by a Secret Service agent saved John Kennedy’s life in Florida. Herbert Hoover learned about Al Capone and Warren G. Harding got stuck on a Florida sandbar. Learn about America’s presidents’ strange relationship with our state. This talk is based on the book, Presidents in Florida.

Hidden History of Florida

Six out of ten Floridians come from outside Florida and know little of the state’s rich history. The Hidden History of Florida uses dozens of stories to tell the little-known facts of Florida history. It is a fast, fun 50-minute journey through 400 years of history with lots of images all based on the book Hidden History of Florida. The trip will leave listeners with a new appreciation of their state’s past.

Photo of Cori Convertito Cori Convertito Scholar, Historian

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Contact Number:
305-766-0145

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Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
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About the speaker

Cori Convertito, Curator and historian at the Key West Art & Historical Society received her doctorate in maritime history from the U.K.’s University of Exeter. Today Convertito creates and curates art- and history-rich exhibits that attract about 250,000 annual visitors to Key West’s The Custom House, Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters and Fort East Martello.

Programs Available

Florida Keys or Bust! A History of Tourism

The talk focuses on the development of the Florida Keys as a tourist destination. It walks through the islands’ history to discover why they maintain their allure for travelers. Why did tourists visit and how did they get here? Where did they stay and what activities were available? And just who were these tourists? Were they people in search of the perfect climate to recuperate from health concerns or were they members of the gay community coming to enjoy its ‘come as you are’ attitude? Following the Fish: Ernest Hemingway in Key West Ernest Hemingway, who lived and worked in Key West throughout the 1930s, immersed himself in Florida Keys game fishing and did much to popularize it among fellow writers, readers, and sportsmen. While it is well known that Hemingway enjoyed boating giant marlin, tuna, and other prey, it is not often acknowledged that he was involved in conservation activities and was fascinated by recording accurate details from his trips. Hemingway had a vested interest in safeguarding the fish population.

Photo of Dr. Anthony Dixon Anthony Dixon Historian, Archivist

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Contact Number:
850-443-9151

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Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
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About the speaker

Dr. Anthony Dixon is the Founder and President of Archival and Historical Research associates, LLC., Field Director for the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network, and Adjunct Professor of History at Florida A&M University.

Programs Available

The African Diaspora Experience in Florida

An examination of Florida’s relationship with African descendants, from 1513 to the present, which has had a direct impact on the state’s growth. Topics include Florida maroons/black Seminoles, slavery, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement.

Photo of Dr. Rebecca Dominguez-Karimi Rebecca Dominguez-Karimi Scholar

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Contact Number:
561-779-9156

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Program format(s) available:

  • Virtual

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About the speaker

Dr. Rebecca Dominguez-Karimi is an oral historian, writer, and podcaster. Rebecca holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Studies and a Certificate in Gender Studies from Florida Atlantic University. Her primary research focuses on structural violence in minority communities, gender studies, and Mexican American history. She taught English at Nova Southeastern University and Broward College. The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded Rebecca a fellowship at The African American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Her archival research focused on the Sixto Campano sheet music collection and culminated in a Research Pathfinder entitled “African American Women in Sheet Music Cover Art 1850-1956.”

Rebecca produces a monthly podcast: “The Tortilla Diaries” that highlights voices from the Treasures of Aztlan Oral History Project and artists from the diverse Hispanic community.

For more: rebeccakarimi.com

Programs Available

Treasures from Aztlan: Hispanic Women’s Voices

This program highlights how Hispanic women view issues of race and ethnicity in their lives. Utilizing multiple formats, this presentation includes podcasts, oral histories, audio-visual presentations, and literary readings.

Voices from the Sunshine State: Florida Women’s Voices

A compilation of oral histories from diverse women of various racial backgrounds, ethnicities, social classes, and birthplaces. A comparison of life stories between transplanted Floridians versus native Floridians will visualize the ways in which their lives are similar yet differ from their early years to later years. This presentation includes readings, oral histories, audio-visual presentations, and podcasts.

Florida’s Hidden Treasures: African American Women in Sheet Music Cover Art–The Sixto Campano Collection

This multimedia presentation highlights the Sixto Campano Sheet music collection at the African American Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL. This colorful collection contains 1,000 pieces of archival sheet music and this presentation focuses on African American women. The audio/visual presentation highlights works from the 1850s to 1950s and chronicles the artistic evolution of African American women throughout the 100-year time span. The artistic images range from plantation life to the Harlem Renaissance to Hollywood and includes archival music from the library’s collections.

Photo of J. Michael Francis J. Michael Francis Scholar

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Contact Number:
727-873-4418

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Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
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About the speaker

Dr. Michael Francis received his PhD in History in 1998 from the University of Cambridge. Between 1997 and 2012, Dr. Francis taught at the University of North Florida, where he also served briefly as Chair of the Department of History. He has taught and written extensively on colonial Florida and Latin America. In 2011, US Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, appointed Dr. Francis to serve on the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission.

Programs Available

Before Jamestown: Europeans, Africans, and Indians in La Florida, 1513–1607

The early history of European settlements in Florida with a focus on Florida’s rich yet largely neglected Spanish colonization, which began nearly a century before Jamestown with St. Augustine, the first European settlement of North America established in 1513.

Murder and Martyrdom in Spanish Florida: Don Juan and the Guale Uprising

In the late fall of 1597, Guale Indians murdered five Franciscan friars and razed their missions to the ground in what is known as Juanillo’s Revolt. It brought the missionization of Guale territory to an abrupt end, shedding light on the complex nature of Spanish-Indian relations and the dramatic early history of Franciscan missions in Spanish Florida.

Photo of Dr. Andrew Frank Andrew Frank Historian

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Contact Number:
850-459-7007

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Program format(s) available:

  • Virtual

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Andrew K. Frank is a specialist in the history of the Seminoles and other Indians of Florida. He is the Allen Morris Professor of History at Florida State University and an award-winning author and editor of many books and articles. His books include Before the Pioneers: Indians, Settlers, Slaves, and the Founding of Miami (2017) and The Seminole (The History and Culture of Native Americans) (2010). He is currently finishing Those Who Camp at a Distance: The Seminoles and Indians of Florida—a synthesis of the history of the Seminoles from their origin until the present.

Programs Available

Before the Pioneers: Connecting Ancient and Contemporary South Florida

The 4,000-year human history of the North Bank of the Miami River illustrates how and why ancient and early-modern peoples profoundly shaped the development of Florida long before Henry Flagler, Julia Tuttle and other so-called Miami
pioneers. Explore the stories of Tequesta and Seminole Indians, Spanish missionaries, African slaves and white slaveholders, Bahamian wreckers, outlaws, runaways, and American soldiers.

Making Chief Osceola: The Abolitionists and the Rise of an American Myth

Anti-war and abolitionist activists helped promote an enduring series of myths and fabrications about Chief Osceola, who played a pivotal role in the Second Seminole War and died in U.S. military captivity in 1838. Osceola was a focus of debates over Indian wars, Indian removal, and their connections to American slavery.

Modern by Tradition: Innovation and the Transformation of Seminole Culture

Between 1700 and today, the culture of the Florida Seminoles has remained remarkably connected to its roots while also innovating in dramatic fashion, becoming both modern and traditional and reflected in their origin stories, dress, cuisine, housing, ceremonies, and family life.

Photo of Edward Gonzalez-Tennant Edward Gonzalez-Tennant Scholar

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Contact Number:
407-823-6503

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Program format(s) available:

  • Virtual

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About the speaker

Edward Gonzalez-Tennant earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida in 2011. Currently an anthropological archaeologist researching a range of topics in the historical and prehistoric periods of Florida and elsewhere. His research is transdisciplinary and draws on archaeology, ethnography, and history. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Central Florida.

Programs Available

Unearthing Rosewood: An Archaeology of Violence and Hope

Rosewood was a prosperous African American community hard-won from the swampy hammocks of north Florida. Although the town was destroyed in 1923, the community continued, scattered across the state of Florida and beyond. Now, nearly 100 years after this tragic event the story of Rosewood remains shrouded from public view. Those who have heard of Rosewood are rarely aware of the community’s deeper history, or its relation to other places across the state. Dr. González-Tennant will discuss the role of archaeology and geospatial sciences in unearthing Rosewood’s complex history. In addition to describing how digital technologies aid traditional archaeological methods, he’ll discuss the importance of outreach and its ability to support a public conversation on racial reconciliation.

Photo of Janie Gould Janie Gould Author

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Contact Number:
772-321-6705

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About the speaker

Janie Gould, a fourth-generation Floridian, lives in Vero Beach and is a writer, editor, lecturer and retired public radio journalist. Janie created and produced the Floridays show for WQCS, the NPR member station for the Treasure Coast and has received numerous awards related to her broadcast journalism endeavors. endeavors. She has published three books, Floridays: Stories From Under the Sun, Vols. 1 and 2 and Food for Floridays: Stories and Recipes.

Programs Available

When Manatees Were Sea Cows: How Floridians Coped When Times Were Hard

The inventive ways Floridians put food on the table and survived during the Great Depression and its aftermath, focusing on one woman’s memories of how her unemployed father kept his family afloat by collecting Spanish moss and selling it for mattress stuffing.

Global Events That Touched Florida: Great Depression Through Cold War

Excerpts from radio interviews of Floridians recalling U-boat attacks, German POWs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and other history-changing events. One man recalls his father’s poker game rattled by a submarine blast 15 miles off Jupiter Island. Another about his first visit to the state—as a German POW. An African-American soldier remembers segregation during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Photo of Arlo Haskell Arlo Haskell Historian

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Contact Number:
305-395-1899

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Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
  • Virtual

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About the speaker

Arlo Haskell is currently executive director of Key West Literary Seminar, the nonprofit organization whose eponymous writers’ conference has been held annually since 1983. His 2017 book, The Jews of Key West: Smugglers, Cigar Makers, and Revolutionaries, won the Phillip and Dana Zimmerman Gold Medal for Florida Nonfiction from the Florida Book Awards and a President’s Medal from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association.

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The Jewish Underground: Smuggling Refugees from Cuba to Key West

The little-known story of thousands of Jewish immigrants who became refugees in Cuba in the 1920s when they were barred from entering the United States. Cuban authorities looked the other way as smugglers transported them to Key West, pitting them against powerful local officials who belonged to the Ku Klux Klan and inspiring Ernest Hemingway’s novel To Have and Have Not.

Vengeance Against Spain: Jewish Immigrants who fought for Cuban Independence

A clandestine cell of Eastern European Jewish immigrants in Key West in the 1890s delivered weapons to the Cuban revolutionary rebels who chased the Spanish Empire out of the Americas. Jews in Key West and Tampa were drawn to the revolutionary movement led by José Martí and paralleled the Zionist cause that led to the creation of Israel.

Photo of David Head David Head Historian

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Contact Number:
716-310-2302

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David Head is a historian, author, and associate lecturer of history at the University of Central Florida. David grew up in Western New York, where he received his B.A. in history from Niagara University and his Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo. An expert on pirates and privateers as well as on George Washington and the American Revolution, he is the author, most recently, of A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the American Revolution. In addition to his scholarly publications, David’s work has appeared in USA Today, the Orlando Sentinel, the Washington Examiner, and the Bulwark.

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The Spanish American Pirates and Privateers Who Tried to Conquer Florida

Two hundred years ago, in the summer of 1817, a group of pirates and privateers invaded Amelia Island, Florida, then still a Spanish colony, in hopes of striking a blow for the Spanish American Revolutions. The presentation will tell the stories of these revolutionary rogues and their leaders, how they planned to free Florida from Spanish rule, and how the United States intervened to stop them.

The Siege of Pensacola and the Gulf Coast Campaign in the American Revolution

In the spring of 1781, British Pensacola fell to a force of Spanish, Irish, Native American, and black Cuban soldiers led by Bernardo de Galvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana–and the colony of British West Florida, once loyal to the king, slipped out of George III’s hands, dealing a new blow in the international war known as the American Revolution. The presentation tells the dramatic story of the American Revolution in Florida when Spain helped the American cause by waging war along the Gulf Coast.

Photo of Tameka Hobbs Tameka Hobbs Historian, Author

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Contact Number:
305-912-5332

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Tameka Bradley Hobbs is an Associate Provost and Associate Professor of History for Florida Memorial University, the only Historically Black University in South Florida. She is the author of _Democracy Abroad, Lynching at Home: Racial Violence in Florida_ (2015; University Press of Florida). Dr. Hobbs was the founding president of the South Florida Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. (ASALH). She also serves as facilitator and curriculum designer for the South Florida People of Color, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating racism through education and advocacy.

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Strange Fruit in Florida

Florida’s painful history of racial violence, highlighted by civil rights activist Harry T. Moore’s fight against lynching and the Ku Klux Klan that led to his death in a bombing of his home. “Strange Fruit” refers to a song made famous by Billie Holiday about the lynching of African Americans in the South.

Photo of Authur (aka Pede) Hollist Authur (aka Pede) Hollist Fullbright Scholar

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Contact Number:
727-597-7026

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Pede Hollist (Arthur Onipede Hollist), a native of Sierra Leone, is an associate professor of English at The University of Tampa, Florida. His interests cover the literature of the African imagination—literary expressions in the African continent as well as in the African diaspora. So the Path Does not Die (Langaa Press, 2012, Cameroon) is his first novel. His short stories, “Going to America,” “BackHomeAbroad,” and “Resettlement” have appeared in Ìrìnkèrindò: A Journal of African Migration, on the Sierra Leone Writers Series Web site, and in Matatu 41-12 respectively.

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Chimamanda Adichie: Feminist, Activist, and Storyteller Changing Minds One Tale at a Time

American schools teach her novels. Sixteen-year-old students in Sweden received copies of her nonfiction “We Should All Be Feminists,” part of which Beyoncé used in her 2013 song “Flawless.” Like the singer-dancer, Adichie’s feminism also multitasks, appealing to many across race, gender, nationality, and generation. Using video and novel excerpts, this talk illustrates that through storytelling techniques, Adichie’s feminism has reached a broader audience than other narratives about women.

Photo of Cheryl Howard Cheryl Howard Scholar

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Contact Number:
301-514-8861

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Dr. Cheryl Howard is the Chief Operating Officer at the African American Heritage Society, Inc. (“AAHS” and/or “the Society”), which is an Arts and Cultural, Diversity Consulting and Cultural Tourism organization in Pensacola, Florida. Cheryl is also a co-founder of the Society which was organized and incorporated September 12, 1990, twenty-nine years ago.

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The Green Book

Discover what “The Green Book” is and was for African American’s all over the US during the period spanning 1930-60’s, and the laws that existed which made owning “the book” potentially life-saving.

The Great Migration

From 1915-70 approximately six million Black Southerners left the South and moved to cities in the North and West. Did you know that a disproportionate percentage of African Americans in New York are originally from Florida? There are specific reasons for why those travelers settled in many of the same cities. Discover why.

Pensacola Panhandle Greats

Learn about the various African Americans from the Panhandle who changed the trajectory of US History. Discover Ella Jordan, the first president of Pensacola’s Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, and close personal confidant to First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Or learn about Chappie James, America’s first African American Four-Star General. Learn about some of the Panhandle’s unsung heroes.

Photo of Ersula Knox-Odom Ersula Knox-Odom Actress, Storyteller, Motivational Speaker

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Contact Number:
813-368-1628

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Ersula K. Odom is CEO of Sula Too LLC, a legacy writer, the author and co-author of several books including African Americans of Tampa and her poetic memoir – At Sula’s Feet. She is a motivational speaker, creates legacy walls, and portrays Mary McLeod Bethune as a one-person show. As founder of Sula Too, LLC she has published books for clients from Georgia to California. She was raised in Georgia, graduated from Eckerd College and is deeply rooted in Tampa with business, family, and friends.

Recent commendations: Signed copy of Congressional Record of Dr. Bethune’s decision to place her statue in Statuary Hall in DC presented to her by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Performance written about in the Wall Street Journal. She received separate commendations from Tampa City Council Commendation for her roles as co-founder of Fortune Friends and as member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on the Economic Impact of Cultural Arts.

As a motivational speaker, Ms. Odom has the uncommon ability to relate to multi-generational and multi-cultural audiences by sharing experiences from such areas as rural living, college life, Fortune 500 corporate management, spirituality, being a mother, entrepreneurship, sales, and genealogy to publishing books.

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Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Comes to Life

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955) was the founder of Bethune-Cookman University. She served as a New Deal government official—in one of the 20 highest-level offices held by women in the administration, and the highest held by an African American woman; was founder of FDR’s “black cabinet;” served as president of the National Association of Colored Women; and founded and served as president of the National Council of Negro Women. After telling the story of Dr. Bethune, Ersula will come out of character and answer questions regarding her research and personal journey.

Photo of Sharon Koskoff Sharon Koskoff Mural Artist, Preservationist, Educator and Designer

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Contact Number:
561-699-7899

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A full-time mural artist, designer, author, educator and preservationist, Koskoff enjoys creating large-scale, community-based art in public places. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to Delray Beach, Florida, in 1985. As an architectural historian and president of the Art Deco Society of the Palm Beaches, Koskoff wrote her first book, Art Deco of the Palm Beaches for Arcadia Publishing. Her most recent book, Murals of the Palm Beaches is winner of two Silver Medals; one in Visual Arts from the Florida Book Awards and one in Education from the Florida Authors & Publishers Association. Koskoff teaches Mixed Media Collage for the Creative Arts School at Old School Square in Delray Beach.

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Art Deco Architecture of the Palm Beaches

Learn about Art Deco style and architecture found in South Florida. Dozens of Art Deco architectural treasures have been discovered and identified in Palm Beach County. Learn about history, culture and understand how reflection of the past can help us move into the future. Other Art Deco presentations can include highlights from Miami, New York, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Egypt, France, and more.

Confessions of a Public Mural Artist

Sharon Koskoff is a pioneer of public art and has painted over 350 murals in Palm Beach County public schools and other public spaces. Discover creativity found in Twentieth-Century WPA style murals through the present. Explore how recent graffiti-styled “street art” murals are adorning our neighborhoods in Florida and bringing us into the future.

Habana Deco: Art and Architecture of Cuba

Take a visual journey with Sharon Koskoff from her recent excursion to Havana, during the 14th Annual Art Deco World Congress. The city of Havana is home to an endless treasure trove of art, Art Deco architecture and culture; however, the infrastructure is poor with everything at risk. Compare our South Florida architecture and society to that of our closest international neighbor, Cuba.

Photo of Magdalena Lamarre Magdalena Lamarre Scholar

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Contact Number:
786-223-4828

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Magdalena Lamarre was a Full Professor of History and Sociology at Miami Dade College until her retirement in 2016.

She earned a BA in History and Secondary Education from Hunter College, MA in History from Stony Brook University, and did post-graduate work in Sociology and Education at Florida International University.

During her tenure at MDC, she co-produced three Oral History documentaries: Surviving and Thriving (2012) Holocaust Survivors experiences during and after the Holocaust; Crossing Bridges Towards Equality (2015) Civil Rights era integration of a high school in Alabama; Forging New Lives After Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rican Student Voices (2019) Experiences of Puerto Rican students who attended Miami Dade College after the hurricane; a project supported by a Florid Humanities Council Community Project grant.

She was awarded the prestigious Miami Dade College Alumni Association Endowed Teaching Chair in 2011, and the NISOD Excellence Award in 1994 and 2012.

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Female Superheroes: What are Their Real Powers?

An examination of the perceptions of women in popular culture through the lens of comic books.

Afro-Caribbean Migration to Florida

This program will examine the migration and settlement patterns of the various Afro-Caribbean peoples who made Florida their home and their contributions to its history and culture.

Black Superheroes: Evolution of Black Panther

This program addresses how Black characters have been portrayed in comic books and how that depiction has evolved. It examines past and present comic book characters and the changing image of Black people in American society through this medium.

Photo of Ashley Lear Ashley Lear Scholar

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Contact Number:
404-323-6639

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Ashley Lear, Ph.D., is a Professor of Humanities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, where she teaches classes on narrative theory and technique in a range of courses, from American Modernism to Science Fiction to Video Games. She is the author of The Remarkable Kinship of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Ellen Glasgow (2018) from UP of Florida. She is a former President and current Trustee of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society.

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Women of To-Morrow: The Social Activism of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Ellen Glasgow

In this presentation on the literary friendship of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Ellen Glasgow, Ashley Lear draws upon research from her book on the two authors to describe the ways in which both women addressed systemic social issues through their literature and their literary reputations. The presentation examines their roles in women’s suffrage and other first wave feminist endeavors, their shifting views and activism on race relations in America, their depictions of socio-economic class issues, and their dedication to environmentalism and animal rights. While Rawlings and Glasgow were, first and foremost, esteemed novelists, they also used their platforms as successful writers to speak publicly on social issues affecting their communities.

Photo of David Letasi David Letasi Paleontologist, Archeologist

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Contact Number:
813-924-0467

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David Letasi, Paleontologist and expert formerly with the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa.

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Florida’s Prehistoric Heritage

Learn how paleontologists discovered Florida’s prehistoric past. Using actual fossils, we will examine the history of the early marine and terrestrial vertebrate fossil sites and unique taxa found over the last century. The unique fossils found here will be compared to other sites in the Western US. The early paleontologists’ techniques and discoveries will be covered and Florida’s unique geology, paleo climate and extinction will be examined.

Pursuit of Florida’s Paleo Hunters

Travel back into the last Ice Age and learn about Florida’s first people. Discover how they survived climate change and giant predators. Who were the archeologist that discovered these early hunters’ artifact sites? We will compare the artifacts found here in Florida to those found around North America. Were there people living here before the Clovis Tradition and what is the Solutrean Theory? What was their origin? These controversies will be examined, and actual Paleoindian artifacts studied.

Photo of Art Levy Art Levy Journalist, Author

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Contact Number:
727-410-5746

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Art Levy is a Florida Trend associate editor. Apart from writing and fact-checking, he interviews prominent Floridians from around the state for the magazine’s Icon feature. A graduate of the University of Florida’s journalism school, Levy joined Florida Trend in 2005. Before that, he worked for newspapers including the Tampa Bay Times and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Over the years, his stories have won more than 20 awards. He’s also the author of the University Press of Florida’s “Made in Florida: Artists, Celebrities, Activists, Educators, and Other Icons in the Sunshine State.”

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Made in Florida: Artists, Celebrities, Activists, Educators, and Other Icons in the Sunshine State

For more than a decade, journalist Art Levy has traveled the state, interviewing prominent Floridians for a Florida Trend magazine feature called Icon. The resulting interviews have been compiled in a University Press of Florida book titled “Made in Florida: Artists, Celebrities, Activists, Educators, and Other Icons in the Sunshine State.” Tailoring each presentation to the local community, Levy can speak about the interviewees, relay anecdotes from the interviews and tell stories about his journey across Florida.

Photo of Peggy Macdonald Peggy Macdonald Historian, Author

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Contact Number:
352-219-0872

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Dr. Peggy Macdonald is a public historian and adjunct professor at Stetson University and Indian River State College. A native Floridian, Dr. Macdonald gives presentations on a variety of topics in Florida history. She has written about local and Florida history for FORUM Magazine, Gainesville Magazine, Our Town Magazine and Senior Times. Dr. Macdonald’s first book, Marjorie Harris Carr: Defender of Florida’s Environment, was published by the University Press of Florida in 2014. She is currently working on a book about Florida’s female pioneers. Dr. Macdonald is an alumna of the University of Florida, where she received a Ph.D. in American history. She served as Executive Director of the Matheson History Museum in Gainesville from 2015 – 2019.

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Florida’s Female Pioneers

Examining some of the women who have shaped Florida, including Dr. Esther Hill Hawks, a physician who ran the first racially integrated free school in Florida; Harriet Beecher Stowe, famous for writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin who kick-started Florida’s tourism industry with her 1873 book, Palmetto Leaves; and Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, the first and only female Florida Seminole Tribal Chair and the first elected female tribal chair of any federally recognized American Indian tribe in the nation.

Florida Women’s Fight for Suffrage

Traces Florida’s suffrage movement from its origins to early successes when Fay Gibson Moulton Bridges became the first Florida woman to vote after the 19th Amendment passed. Former Florida First Lady May Mann Jennings galvanized the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs to fight for equal suffrage and cofounded the Florida chapter of the League of Women Voters. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune helped black men and women exercise their right to vote by offering classes to help students pass the literacy test and fundraising for a poll tax fund.

Marjorie Harris Carr: Defender of Florida’s Environment

Raised by naturalist parents in rural Southwest Florida, Marjorie Carr used the power of the pen and grassroots activism to celebrate Old Florida and protect Florida’s wildlife and wild places, preserving many of north central Florida’s ecological treasures.

Photo of Victoria Machado Victoria Machado Scholar

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Contact Number:
954-683-9422

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Victoria received her B.A. and M.A. at the University of Florida, focusing on intentional communities, sustainability, and bioregionalism. After working as an environmental organizer in South Florida, she returned to UF where she is currently a PhD candidate studying the intersection of religion and environmental activism. More specifically she is interested in state and local water issues, environmental justice, and the underlying values that promote social change.

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Sacred Waters: Exploring the Protection of Florida’s Fluid Landscapes

This presentation explores efforts to restore Florida’s waterways. We will investigate the motivations of environmentalists who love and advocate for these water bodies. By focusing on issues related to springs and the Everglades, we will dive into the conversations that arise when Floridians view water as essential to their quality of life.

Photo of Pedro Medina Pedro Medina Author

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Contact Number:
305-263-0112

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Pedro Medina León studied Literature at Florida International University and is an award-winning writer, speaker, and editor. He is the author of the acclaimed novel Varsovia (Florida Book Award 2017), Mañana no te veré en Miami, and Marginal and Tour: una vuelta por la cultura popular de Miami, and coeditor of the anthologies Viaje One Way and Miami (Un)plugged.

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Our Man in Miami

The East Coast Railway, the railroad of Henry M. Flagler, opened Miami to the rest of the world. Before that, the land south of Palm Beach was inhospitable. Built between 1906 and 1912, the railway was called the eighth wonder of the world.

The Vice of Miami during the 80’s

Miami in the early ‘80s had the highest murder rate in the country and was the center of drug cartels populated by immigrants from Latin America’s lowest strata, no longer the peaceful old-age spa. But on September 28, 1984, Miami Vice debuted on national television and reinvented the city in poplar imagination.

Celebrities Who Leave a Legacy: Jim Morrison, Bob Marley & Cassius Clay

Miami’s connection to some of America’s biggest celebrities and pop culture icons: the beginning of the end of the band The Doors was in Coconut Grove; Bob Marley’s transcendental relationship with the city; the Miami Beach monument dedicated to an African American was for Muhammad Ali.

Books & Libros: The Great Novel of Miami

The reality of Miami told through fiction and the debate over the “great novel of Miami,” focused on works in English and Spanish: 8th Street by Douglas Fairbairn, Miami Blues by Charles Willeford, Continental Drift by Russell Banks; Miami [UN] Plugged and Viaje One Way: Snow in Miami by Juan Carlos Castillón, and Extremo Occidente by Juan Carlos Castillón.

Photo of Peter Meinke Peter Meinke Poet

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Contact Number:
727-896-1862

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Peter Meinke is currently the Poet Laureate of the State of Florida and has published over 20 books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. He founded the Writing Workshop at Eckerd College, and directed it for many years. He’s been Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at a dozen schools, including Davidson, Hamilton, Old Dominion and others; and his latest book is a collection of poems, Tasting Like Gravity, published last year by the U. of Tampa Press. Peter won the Florida Lifetime Literary Award for Writing from Florida Humanities in 2020.

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A Reading with Peter Meinke

A generous selection of readings by Florida’s Poet Laureate, whose work has been called witty, dark, and formally assured, exploring family, daily life, and politics. Includes a discussion about the works and about writing.

Photo of Barbara Mennel Barbara Mennel Scholar

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Contact Number:
352-328-6510

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Professor Barbara Mennel holds a joint appointment in the German section of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and the Film Studies Program and the Feminisms, Genders, & Sexualities tracks in the English Department. Her research interests include transnational cinematic practices, feminist and queer theory, and the intersection of urban studies and film studies. At UF, she has been awarded the University of Florida Foundation Research Professorship (2018-21) and the Waldo W. Neikirk Professorship (2014-20). She is the author of several books.

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The City on Screen

An examination of the development of cities on screen. Silent films depicted cities as incarnations of modernity. With the invention of light-weight cameras, films in the mid-century entered the streets of Rome, Paris, and Berlin showing movement through the avenues of the metropolis. At the turn of the 21st century, images of megacities, such as Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro, circulated on the global film market as crime-ridden dystopian visions.

Photo of Caren Neile Caren Neile Storyteller, Scholar, Author

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Contact Number:
561-289-6586

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Caren S. Neile, Ph.D., MFA, has taught storytelling studies at Florida Atlantic University since 2001. A Fulbright Senior Specialist, she has performed and lectured in six countries and ten states. She has published five books, including Only in Florida and Florida Lore, both through the History Press, and appears weekly as co-host of the South Florida public radio segment The Public Storyteller. Dr. Neile is the past chair of the National Storytelling Network and a co-founder of the academic journal Storytelling, Self, Society, published by Wayne State Press.

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Only in Florida! Your Story, Yourself

Florida history isn’t something that just happens to other people. Based in part on Dr. Neile’s book Only in Florida (History Press), you will learn how to tell your own story and that of your family, in workshop or performance/lecture format, or as part of a friendly competition.

Short Takes: A Grab Bag of Old Florida Stories

From the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge to the Ashley Gang, Florida history is brimming with fascinating characters and memorable events. Enjoy lively interpretations of some of the better-known Florida tales of lovers, criminals, and celebrities, as well as others you might not have encountered. Stories performed are based on Dr. Neile’s book Florida Lore (History Press).

Your Florida Story, Made to Order

Care to host a professional performance of the story of your town? Is there a person, event or group you want to honor? Simply provide the material and sit back while a veteran storyteller/scholar does the rest, creating and performing a show for your community to keep and treasure.

The Story of Olive

Olive Chapman Lauther came to South Florida as a child in the late 19th century. Her story, which includes swimming with baby alligators and feasting on wild pigs for Thanksgiving dinner, was captured in her engaging 1963 book The Lonesome Road. Olive’s experience comes to life—complete with “flying” bugs—in this lively and informative performance of her delightful and unusual early life and the birth of a remarkable city: Delray Beach.

Photo of Dr. Steve Noll Steve Noll Historian, Writer

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Contact Number:
352-273-3380

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Steve Noll is a master lecturer in the history department at the University of Florida, where he received his PhD in 1991. Dr. Noll taught special education in the public schools of Alachua County for 28 years before moving over full-time to UF in 2004. Dr. Noll has written extensively on general Florida history as well as more specialized subjects ranging from Florida environmental policy, the ill-fated Cross Florida Barge Canal, and the disability rights movement of the 1970s.

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Ditch of Dreams: The Cross Florida Barge Canal & the Struggle for Florida’s Future

The long and convoluted history of an effort to cross the Florida peninsula by cutting a waterway from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, starting with the Ocklawaha River in the 19th century and the first attempted ship canal in the 1930s. An environmental movement stopped the canal before it was completed and eventually turned it into a greenway.

Florida Water Stories

Florida’s long and difficult relationship with water, its attempts to turn land into water and water into land, and the contentious issues involving the Everglades, the Ocklawaha River, political battles with Alabama and Georgia, and the potential impact of sea-level rise.

Hometown Teams: Florida Sports History

The history of sports in Florida in the context of racial and gender issues, the influence of big business, and personal identities Floridians have with their local teams. It’s serious but it’s also fun.

Florida Transportation History: Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (& Steamboats too!)

Florida’s history told through the myriad methods of transportation designed to move people and goods to and within Florida, which transformed from a backwoods frontier to one of the most important states in the union. From Bellamy Road of the 1820s to the modern transportation issues facing Florida in the 21st century.

Photo of Mallory O’Connor Mallory O’Connor Scholar

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Contact Number:
352-466-3711

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Mallory O’Connor is a writer, an art historian, and a musician. She holds degrees in art, art history, and American history from Ohio University. For twenty years she taught art history at the University of Florida and at Santa Fe College. During this time, she also wrote hundreds of magazine articles and critical essays, and curated numerous exhibitions for museums and galleries. She is the author of two non-fiction books, Lost Cities of the Ancient Southeast and Florida’s American Heritage River, both published by the University Press of Florida.

As director of the Thomas Center Gallery, the primary cultural center of the City of Gainesville from 1984-1994 and the Santa Fe College Art Gallery from 1994-1999, Professor O’Connor organized numerous exhibitions including highly successful shows on Florida art and history.

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Before Bartram: Artist-Naturalist Mark Catesby

Mark Catesby surveyed Florida sixty-two years before William Bartram. This lecture is an overview of the over 200 watercolors and drawings which, along with field notes and hundreds of preserved specimens constituted one of the earliest and certainly one of the most comprehensive systematic studies of the flora and fauna of southeastern North America.

Billy’s Wonderful Performances: The Art and Science of William Bartram

This lecture explores the art of William Bartram and especially the images that are based on his travels in the Southeast between 1765 and 1775. Working under often extreme conditions, undeterred by raging rivers, wild beasts, exotic diseases, and hostile natives, Bartram covered thousands of miles throughout the Southeast and drew, painted and described hundreds of plants and animals, and provided maps and field notes that formed the basis for America’s natural history.

Strangers in a Strange Land: Picturing Florida’s History through Art

“Look” for Florida in this lecture of the many eccentric images that tell the story of our state. Strangers in a Strange Land explores Florida’s art history and rich visual mythology. These images span centuries of time and attest to both the vivid imagination of the artists and the equally flamboyant narratives centered on our state.

Photo of Kitty Oliver Kitty Oliver Author, Oral Historian, Singer

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Contact Number:
954-382-0793

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Dr. Kitty Oliver is an author, oral historian, media producer and professional singer with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and a Ph.D. focusing on race and ethnic communication. The native Floridian and former university professor is founder of the “Race and Change” historical archive of cross-cultural race and ethnic relations oral histories, the only one of its size and scope in the country. Her sought-after insights and research have been featured in books, public television and webcast radio productions, on CNN, and, most recently, in a standout interview in the Ron Howard Beatles documentary Eight Days a Night-The Touring Years. This in-demand artist also has a CD of original inspirational jazz music and weaves music, media and storytelling into her innovative, creative, uplifting programs on race and ethnic relations designed to bridge audiences across cultures and generations.

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Race and Change: Women’s Stories

How women deal with race, ethnicity, and gender in their everyday lives, told through video, radio programs, literary readings, and oral histories.

Race and Change Across Cultures and Generations: Florida Stories

How far we’ve come and how progress can be made that inspires our youth, drawing on an archive of over 125 oral histories of blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians and Caribbeans from a variety of heritages.

An Evening of Jazz and Multi-colored Memories

A cabaret performance of inspirational jazz vocals and stories tracing the common journey of nativeborn Americans and immigrants adapting to life in a diverse society and social change. Note: Additional charge for musical accompanist.

Photo of Gordon Patterson Gordon Patterson Scholar

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Contact Number:
321-506-0631

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Dr. Gordon Patterson explores how Florida overcame the challenge of mosquitos, perhaps the most vexing struggle humans encountered in the past two centuries. As vectors of diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and dengue, mosquitoes and our species’ effort to institute mosquito control played a crucial role in Florida history.

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Waging War on the Mosquito Menace

How Florida overcame the challenge of mosquitos, perhaps the most vexing struggle humans encountered in the past two centuries. As vectors of diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and dengue, mosquitoes and our species’ effort to institute mosquito control played a crucial role in Florida history.

Photo of Craig Pittman Craig Pittman Journalist, Author

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Contact Number:
727-385-1804

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Craig Pittman is a native Floridian and an award-winning journalist and author. He spent 30 years working for the Tampa Bay Times and now writes a weekly column on environmental issues for the Florida Phoenix. He is the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, which won a gold medal from the Florida Book Awards. His most recent book is Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther. His sixth book, The State You’re In: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife, will be published in July 2021. He is also the co-host of the weekly podcast “Welcome to Florida;” In 2020, the Florida Heritage Book Festival named him a Florida Literary Legend. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and children.

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Oh, Florida!

Florida is known as the Sunshine State, but lately, it’s gotten the reputation of being the Punchline State. Amid all the mockery that comes with the Florida Man and Florida Woman stories, though, people forget just how important and influential Florida has been. Everything from NASCAR to Native American casinos got started here, and major events such as the Rev. Martin Luther King’s arrest in St. Augustine changed life across the country. This talk also delves into why Florida produces so much weird news.

CAT TALE: How the panther became Florida’s official state animal — and nearly went extinct

In 1981, Florida’s schoolchildren voted to make the Florida panther the state’s official state animal. But by 1995, the state animal was in dire need of help. The panther population had dwindled down to fewer than 30, and some scientists thought it had fallen into single digits. Saving the panther required pulling off an unprecedented experiment, aided by a grizzled tracker, an outspoken veterinarian, and a handful of biologists who sometimes had to defy their own agencies to do what was right.

Photo of Ashley Preston Ashley Preston Scholar

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Contact Number:
919-939-1172

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Dr. Ashley Preston teaches in the African American Studies Program at the University of Florida. She is also the author of three books and her research interests include: African American women’s involvement during World War II, the activism of Mary McLeod Bethune and the Black club women’s movement.

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Mary McLeod Bethune in the Sunshine State

At the turn of the 20th century, Mary McLeod Bethune arrived in Daytona Beach with $1.50, looking to start a school. She overcame institutionalized racism, Ku Klux Klan threats and the ills of segregation to establish what is now Bethune-Cookman University, changing the course of Florida history with relentless faith and dedication to equality.

Photo of Liz Prisley Liz Prisley Poet

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Contact Number:
321-431-8569

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Liz is a writer, performance poet, and educator based out of Tampa, Florida. Since 2008 she has taught many forms of writing as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany, as well as at Virginia Tech, the University of Tampa, and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She earned her MA in English from Virginia Tech and her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida.

Liz is currently the Executive Director of Heard Em Say Youth Arts Collective, a nonprofit dedicated to youth empowerment through creative arts. As a slam poet, Liz has represented Tampa at regional and national competitions, and her work can be seen on SlamFind, Poetry Slam, Inc., and as a speaker at TEDXUSFSP. In addition to being a boss poet, Liz is also a passionate coffee drinker and fro-yo aficionado.

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I Live Here: Finding Voice & Connection Through Spoken Word

An engaging reading of poems by Liz that roams through personal experience, education, and the political. Reading will be followed by Q&A discussion on poetry and writing. Writing workshops offered as an optional addition to the reading. Poetry, and specifically spoken word, lends itself generously to positive identity development and exploration of the personal. Liz guides audiences through a journey of inspiration and self-reflection and how storytelling can be a transformational tool for all.

Photo of Diane Roberts Diane Roberts Scholar

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Contact Number:
850-508-5867

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Diane Roberts is a professor of English. She specializes in Southern culture and is an author, columnist, essayist, radio commentator and reviewer. She earned her doctorate at Oxford University.

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Clean, Old-Fashioned Hatred: The College Football Tribes of Florida

The cultural importance of football in Florida, from the aftermath of the Civil War to the multi-million dollar machine which shapes higher education in the state. Why do so many of us care so much about a bunch of refrigerator-sized boys knocking into each other on a green field? In Florida, as in most of the South and Midwest, college football has never been “only a game.”

Dream State

How each new wave of Florida settlers, from the mounds of the First Peoples to modern golf courses and artificial lakes, has reinvented the state to suit themselves. We live in a state of dreams, a paradise of sun and sea breezes. We pronounce it paradise then “improve” it: mermaids at Weeki Wachee or castles in Orange County or “islands” built on fill dirt dumped into our waters.

Photo of Michael Scheibach Michael Scheibach Scholar, Author

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Contact Number:
305-450-1927

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Independent scholar Michael Scheibach, Ph.D., specializes in the history of the early Cold War (1945-1965). He is the author of three books on the impact of the atomic bomb on American society in the 1950s, including Alert America! — The Atomic Bomb and “The Show That May Save Your Life.” He received his doctorate in American studies from the University of Kansas and taught for several years as an adjunct professor. He currently teaches in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Miami.

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Living with the Atomic Bomb: 1945-1965

The threat of an atomic bomb attack was felt throughout the nation in the 1950s and 1960s, including in the state of Florida, especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. From duck and cover drills for children and youth, to family and community fallout shelters, to city and statewide civil defense drills, Americans were constantly reminded about the potential of an attack by the Soviet Union. Yet as adults prepared for this possibility, their children played with atomic toys and read comics about “The Bomb.”

Protecting the Home Front: Women in Civil Defense in the Early Cold War

So-called traditional roles for women in the 1950s as housewives and mothers have been well documented. Yet millions of women took advantage of the opportunity to expand their roles by either being employed by or volunteering for civil defense agencies and organizations. The Federal Civil Defense Administration set its goal as having women constitute up to 70 percent of the national civil program, and women responded. Women held management and operational positions, and served as block wardens, auxiliary police officers, nurses, and many other positions. These women have been largely overlooked by historians, which makes it important to examine their essential participation in the nation’s defense during this critical time in our history.

Presidents in Crisis: Their Response, Their Resolve, Their Leadership

America has faced many crises, from its very beginning as a new nation, to the Civil War and Great Depression, to World War II and the Cold War. The presidents during these crisis events met the challenge in different ways, but each one exhibited the qualities, the vision, and the leadership needed to persevere. This presentation examines the most notable presidents, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and more.

Photo of David Schmidt David Schmidt Educator

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Contact Number:
260-336-4714

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David Schmidt is currently the curator of the Florida Civilian Conservation Corps Museum at Highland Hammock State Park in Sebring. Before that, he taught for 37 years focusing on United States History, Geography, and special education. David holds two master’s degrees from Ball State University in Special Education and United States History and did additional study at Michigan State University, Indiana University, and Bowling Green State University.

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The Civilian Conservation Corps in Florida: State Parks and More

In his book, Rightful Heritage, Douglas Brinkley concludes that “few [New Deal] programs would shine brighter” than the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the presence of the CCC in Florida, from 1933 until 1942, there were over 70 camps around the state with a total of just under 50,000 young men working on projects. This informative program presents an overview of the CCC and the projects, from the Keys to Panhandle, that were accomplished during this historic period.

The Legacy of Franklin Roosevelt’s WPA in Florida

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was one of FDR’s most wide-ranging, yet controversial programs. Many saw it as a “make work’ program that did not accomplish its goals—the acronym was derided as “We Piddle Around.” The evidence indicates that the program was far more successful and, even today, Floridians enjoy the buildings and constructions created by the WPA. This program views the WPA and focuses on the still existing projects.

Photo of Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan Fullbright Scholar

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Contact Number:
727-744-8266

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Dr. Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Founding Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where she teaches courses in American Government and Public Law. McLauchlan was awarded the American Political Science Association and Pi Sigma Alpha’s Certificate for Outstanding Teaching in Political Science, USF’s Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the USF Outstanding Faculty Award, and was named one of the Top 25 Women Professors in Florida. Her book Congressional Participation as Amicus Curiae before the U.S. Supreme Court explores how Members of Congress attempt to influence Supreme Court decision-making in specific cases. In addition to her scholarly activities, Professor McLauchlan has extensive experience in American government and politics. McLauchlan worked at the US Supreme Court, the US Senate Judiciary Committee, the US Department of Justice, and the White House. A veteran of several presidential campaigns, she has managed statewide operations across the US, from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. In 2014 she was a candidate for Florida Senate District 22.

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The Supreme Court of the United States

Drawing from her time working there, Dr. Scourfield-McLauchlan gives a behind-the-scenes tour of the Supreme Court of the United States. She will discuss the history and judicial functions of the Supreme Court as well as the architectural features of the building.

Road to the White House

Every 4 years, Dr. Scourfield-McLauchlan takes her students to the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire to see the campaigning process up close. Learn about the physically grueling pace that a campaign moves and what it takes to be elected to the highest office in the land from a veteran of several presidential campaigns.

Photo of Sandra Starr Sandra Starr Scholar, Researcher, Art Historian, Curator

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Contact Number:
703-801-7281

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Her interest in the history of Florida, and the art and history of the American Indians of the Western Hemisphere, led her to the Smithsonian Institution where she assisted in planning the grand opening of the National Museum of the
American Indian.

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Indians at the Post Office:
Murals as Public Art: A 21st- Century-Look at New Deal-era Post Office Murals

In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal had sponsored several art programs to help get people back to work and to restore confidence in a nation facing 25 percent unemployment. His intent was to install public art in federal buildings, intended to “help boost the morale of people suffering the effects of the Great Depression.” Fine art murals are on the walls of more than 700 post offices nationwide, usually above the postmaster’s office door. Fine art originals depicting scenes of the history of that town or the state. Standing frozen in time, post office murals hold on their surfaces, visual, autobiographic essays of how America saw itself, considered its minorities, and presented its heroes as the Nation moved from a rural to an industrialized society.

Beauty from the Ashes:
American Indian Art as Witness to American History

There is a certain feeling one has about an object imbued with both beauty and history: a pot used, a moccasin worn, a doll carried. The art of the American Indian not only expresses the creativity and purpose of the makers, but also contains an aura that transports us to critical periods in North American Indian and American history when native artists chose to continue to create beautiful things that would survive their lives of chaos, displacement, and poverty. If an object could speak, it might say: “That which did not kill me made me stronger.” When I approach an object, I know that each component material brings with it a different historical reference—all bound together into another form—by hands that were continually witnessing community manipulation, daily loss, betrayal, and random acts of aggression.

The Pre-Columbian Bird-man:
Ancient Art History as Evidence of a Sacred Bird-Man Deity of Maize Agriculture

This presentation follows Ms. Starr’s 17-year investigation into the meaning of a 2000-year-old golden diadem unearthed at a burial site in the Pacific Coastal area of Paracas, Peru. The diadem depicted a man with wings. Her research has taken her on a virtual journey north from Peru and Bolivia following visual clues into the Pre-Columbian art history of South and Central America, Mexico, the rim of the Gulf, and north along rivers to as far as the Lakes Region of North America. Evidence of such a Bird Man was also found in Florida and the Caribbean resulting in the gathering of images of over 900 objects created by ancient indigenous peoples depicting a singular flying deity of agriculture. Contemporary Indigenous peoples still revere him as an iconic part of their celebrations and ceremonies. Her investigation is ongoing.

Turbans, Wigs, Crowns, and Authority:
Headwear and Power in American Indian History

The Florida Museum of Natural History holds in its collections an example of contemporary Seminole male headwear referred to as a turban. At first glance, it appears to be a simply made device of colored cotton fabric wrapped around a cardboard form, then encircled by a metal band as a crown-like decoration. The turban is adorned with a feather. But its simplicity belies a vast depth of storied historic and even prehistoric implications. Its value as a signifier of cultural individuality and power reaches back millennia. The meaning of headgear in the Western Hemisphere can be found throughout recorded time, serving across 2,500 years as a culture and social-status signifier, a carrying device, a height enhancer, an indicator of king or queenship, an international trendsetter, and possibly a signal for the intention of war or peace.

Photo of Betty Jean Steinshouer Betty Jean Steinshouer Author, Historian, Actress

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Contact Number:
727-735-4608

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About the speaker

Betty Jean Steinshouer first came to Florida with “Willa Cather Speaks” in 1989. Floridians convinced her to add Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to her repertoire, and she moved to the state in order to do her research. She has since toured 43 states presenting Humanities programs on women authors (including five with Florida connections), homelessness in literature, Ernest Hemingway, America at War, Jim Crow Florida, and marriage equality.

In 2004, she was named a Fellow in Florida Studies at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Her book about Willa Cather, Long Road from Red Cloud, was awarded the 2020 International Book Award for biography.

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Scribbling Women in Florida

A dozen women authors have put Florida on the map, between Reconstruction-era Harriet Beecher Stowe and Constance Fenimore Woolson, the Gilded Age’s Sarah Orne Jewett, the homesteading Laura Ingalls Wilder and her libertarian daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, environmentalists Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Rachel Carson, friends Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and poets Edna St. Vincent Millay, Elizabeth Bishop, and Anne Morrrow Lindbergh.

They all gravitated to the Land of Flowers, and here are the lessons they learned.

Boston Marriages gone South

Here are the lives of four lesbian couples who traveled to Florida together in the 19th and 20th centuries, long before marriage equality: Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Fields; Katharine Loring and Alice James; Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Carolyn Percy Cole; Elizabeth Bishop and Louise Crane.

Photo of Bob Stone Bob Stone Photographer, Folklorist

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Contact Number:
352-219-8090

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Bob Stone is an independent folklorist and media-producer based in Gainesville. In 2011, the Florida Department of State honored him with the Florida Folk Heritage Award in recognition of his outstanding achievements as a lifelong advocate of the folk arts and folk artists of Florida. He conducted extensive field documentation and served as co-curator for the large travelling exhibition Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition, which has been viewed by more than 520,000 visitors from Florida to Nevada. He edited the exhibition catalog, which was published in February 2013 by the Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation. His documentary photos have been shown in numerous exhibitions and published in Newsweek, The New York Times, Forum, Wooden Boat and other print media. He is the author of Sacred Steel: Inside an African American Steel Guitar Tradition, University of Illinois Press, 2010.

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Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition

Exploring and celebrating the history and culture of the nation’s oldest cattle ranching state. Few realize that cattle first came to the United States through Florida, introduced by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1521. See and hear all aspects of Florida cattle ranching traditions, including Cracker cow-whips and unique ranch gate designs, swamp cabbage and other foodways, cowboy church and Cracker cowboy funerals, Seminole ranching past and present, occupational skills such as roping and branding, the vibrant rodeo culture, side-splitting cowboy poetry, feisty cow-dogs, and much more.

Photo of Michael Tougias Michael Tougias Author, Motivational Speaker

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Contact Number:
508-282-1875

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Michael J. Tougias is a New York Times bestselling author and co-author of 29 books. Among his bestsellers are The Finest Hours (Disney Motion Pictures’ version opened in 45 countries in January 2016), Fatal Forecast, Overboard, King Philip’s War, and There’s A Porcupine In My Outhouse: The Vermont Misadventures of a Mountain Man Wannabe.

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Above & Beyond: JFK and the Florida U-2 pilots During the Cuban Missile Crisis

The little-known story of U-2 pilots who flew from Orlando to Cuba to secure the photographic proof that the Soviets were installing nuclear missiles on Cuba, sparking an international crisis that brought U.S. and the Soviet Union
to the brink of war. One pilot was fatally shot down by the Soviets, in an incident that was covered up and later revealed by U-2 pilot Jerry McIlmoyle of Venice, Florida.

U-Boats So Close to Home: An American Family’s World War II Story of Survival and the U-boat that Attacked Them

The attack, the survivors, and the rescue of the first U-boat to enter the Gulf of Mexico, in May 1942, as it stalked its prey 30 miles off New Orleans.

The Finest Hours: The Coast Guard’s Most Daring Rescue & the Disney Movie

The true story of how two separate oil tankers split in half in a 1952 Nor’easter off Cape Cod and how the Disney movie about the disaster was made. The hero of this story was Bernie Webber of Melbourne, Florida.

From the Mayflower to King Philip’s Indian War (Seeds of Democracy and a clash of cultures)

2020 marked the 400th Anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in Plymouth. Crucial to their success was the agreement that they signed called the Mayflower Compact that initiated the themes of American Democracy. In this slide presentation, by historian and NY Times Bestselling author Michael Tougias, he will also discuss: The Pilgrims first disastrous year, friendship with Wampanoag leader Massasoit, the two major wars with the Native Americans: The Pequot War and King Philip’s War, which had the highest casualty rate per capita of any war fought by Americans including the Civil War, and the war was also the first major war in America. Tougias will discuss the ramifications of this War and how it later influenced the treatment of the Seminoles of Florida.

(Tougias is the co-author of titled King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict)

Photo of Lu Vickers Lu Vickers Author, Historian

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Contact Number:
850-661-3741

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Lu Vickers has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for fiction for excerpts for a novel in progress. She has also been the recipient of two Florida Book awards and three Florida Individual Artist Fellowships for fiction. In addition to writing Remembering Paradise Park (with C. Graham), she has written the novel Breathing Underwater and three other Florida history books: Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids, Cypress Gardens, America’s Tropical Wonderland, and Weeki Wachee, Thirty Years of Underwater Photography, with Bonnie Georgiadis.

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Cypress Gardens: America’s Tropical Wonderland

Vintage photographs illustrate the story of Cypress Gardens, the world-famous tourist attraction that Dick Pope created out of swampland in Winter Haven that cemented Florida’s reputation as the land of sun and fun from the 1930s to 2009 when it was sold to Legoland. The flamboyant Pope, known as the “man who invented Florida,” combined a water ski show, tropical Gardens, and iconic Southern Belles to create an enduring symbol of Florida.

Remembering Paradise Park

In 1949, during the Jim Crow era, Silver Springs’ owners Carl Ray and Shorty Davidson did something unique: they created a place for African-Americans tourists. Located downriver, they dubbed their creation “Paradise Park for Colored People” and put Eddie Vereen in charge. From 1949 to 1969, the former Silver Springs boat captain ran one of the most popular places for African Americans to visit.

Weeki Wachee: City of Mermaids

The fascinating history of Weeki Wachee Springs told through vintage photographs of the mermaids from their earliest days performing silent ballets to the heyday when ABC built them a million-dollar theater. When Newt Perry sank a theater into the edge of the spring in 1947, he had no idea his mermaids would become world-famous Florida icons.

Photo of Kimberly Voss Kimberly Voss Scholar

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Contact Number:
618-541-4746

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Kimberly Voss, PhD-Maryland, is a full professor of journalism at the University of Central Florida. She has published four books about women and mass media – many of the journalists from Florida. She researches journalism in the 1950s and 1960s, newspaper food history and fashion journalism, as well as political clubwomen and the Equal Rights Amendment in Florida.

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Florida Women Journalists & Politics

The stories of significant women’s page journalists who contributed to their Florida communities, from promoting women’s clubs to helping communities grow to sharing recipes. These women were smart, feisty and ahead of their time, integrating their sections and encouraging social change through so-called soft news. Featured journalists: Marie Anderson, Dorothy Jurney and Marjorie Paxson – three of only four women’s page editors to be featured in the Washington Press Club Foundation’s oral history project.

Florida Food in the Golden Era of Women’s Page Journalism

“Florida Food, Drink & Women’s Journalism,” Florida’s women’s pages – the only place for women in journalism in the 1950s and 1960s – were considered the best in the country. The women in these sections explained Florida food and drink as the state grew. Using backgrounds in home economics, they explained changing tastes in local and national dishes, dessert trends and restaurant reviews. Featured journalists: Jeanne Voltz, Jane Nickerson and Ruth Gray – pioneering food journalists.

Photo of Marcia Jo Zerivitz Marcia Jo Zerivitz Scholar, Oral Historian

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Contact Number:
305-761-5193

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Marcia Jo Zerivitz, Founding Executive Director, Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, is a native West Virginian who has lived in Florida for more than half a century. She has been a trailblazer in the American and Floridian Jewish communities serving national, state, and local organizations and has broken the “glass ceiling” as the first woman in many positions. Her focus for the past forty years has been organizing Florida Jewish communities to collect, document, and preserve their history, researching and collating the hidden 250+ years of Florida Jewish history, and creating a state-wide history museum with collections, exhibits, publications, and educational programs. She initiated the legislation for both Florida Jewish History Month (FJHM) each January and Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) each May to increase awareness of the contributions of Jews to the quality of life for all. In 2020, her seminal book, Jews of Florida: Centuries of Stories was released.

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Jews of Florida: Centuries of Stories

This 60-minute PowerPoint presentation is based on the author’s seminal book, the first comprehensive history of the Jews of Florida from colonial times to the present —a sweeping tapestry of voices spanning centuries. Despite not being officially allowed to live in Florida until 1763. Jewish immigrants escaping expulsions and exclusions were among the earliest settlers. They have been integral to every area of Florida’s growth, from tilling the land and developing early communities to boosting tourism and ultimately pushing mankind into space. You will meet contemporary Floridian Jews—names that are recognized globally—and pioneers who impacted history beginning 257 years ago and possibly in 16th century Florida.

Antisemitism: Why the Longest Hatred? Images of Hatred in Florida Culture

Why have antisemitism and resulting hate crimes increased during this pandemic? This 60-minute PowerPoint presentation will explain its genesis and tropes. Historically, antisemitism has been the early warning signal of a society in danger. Why? Using degenerate artworks, Marcia Jo Zerivitz will demonstrate the historical background of antisemitism – the virus that mutates with every generation, and the insidious power of imagery in communicating the agenda of hatred, including Christian roots, the modern world and contemporary racist images from Florida culture since the Civil War covering the Klan, Nazism and restrictive covenants.

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