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

Back to all programs » Florida History
Photo of Dr. Uzi Baram Uzi Baram Scholar

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Contact Number:
941-342-4342

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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 J. Michael Butler J. Michael Butler Historian, Author

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Contact Number:
904-819-6275

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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 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 J. Michael Francis J. Michael Francis Scholar

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Contact Number:
727-873-4418

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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 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 David Head David Head Historian

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Contact Number:
716-310-2302

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About the speaker

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 Magdalena Lamarre Magdalena Lamarre Scholar

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Contact Number:
786-223-4828

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About the speaker

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.

Programs Available

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 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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About the speaker

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.”

Programs Available

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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About the speaker

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.

Programs Available

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 Pedro Medina Pedro Medina Author

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Contact Number:
305-263-0112

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  • Virtual

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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.

Programs Available

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 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.

Programs Available

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.

Programs Available

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 Gordon Patterson Gordon Patterson Scholar

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Contact Number:
321-506-0631

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Program format(s) available:

  • Virtual

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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.

Programs Available

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.

Programs Available

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 Diane Roberts Diane Roberts Scholar

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Contact Number:
850-508-5867

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About the speaker

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.

Programs Available

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 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

Notes

Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
  • Virtual

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About the speaker

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.

Programs Available

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

Contact the Speaker

Contact Number:
850-661-3741

Notes

Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
  • Virtual

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About the speaker

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.

Programs Available

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 Marcia Jo Zerivitz Marcia Jo Zerivitz Scholar, Oral Historian

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Contact Number:
305-761-5193

Notes

Program format(s) available:

  • In-person
  • Virtual

Download Speaker Listing

About the speaker

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.

Programs Available

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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