The Florida Humanities Series is our gift to the
In 2007, The Florida Humanities Council an independent,
non-profit organization that serves as our state's affiliate of the National
Endowment for the Humanities, funded a special program at The Emerson Center
to provide free, public programs that explore Florida's history, folklore,
environment, literature, music, and art. Today, relying solely on community
support, The Emerson Center continues to offer these informative programs
for our neighbors.
us in saying special thanks to Marine Bank & Trust, our sponsor for the 2010-2011 Florida
The capacity of the Emerson Center is more than 800. For our Florida
Humanities series, free admission will be
offered on a first-come-first-served basis. There will be a selection of V.I.P. seats reserved for season ticket holders of the "Celebrated Speakers
Series," Florida Humanities Series Sponsors, and Friends of the Emerson Center. The
Emerson Center is handicapped-accessible and is conveniently located at 1590
27th Avenue, on the SE corner of 16th Street and 27th Avenue in Vero Beach.
For more information, contact 778-5249.
Once again in 2010-2011, The
Emerson Center at the Unitarian Universalist
Fellowship in Vero Beach will present the Florida
Humanities Series - our gift to the community.
Six acclaimed speakers will be presented at the Center between October 2010
and April 2011, with all presentations relating to Florida history, nature,
culture, and issues. Admission to each is complimentary and all performances
will begin at 7 p.m.
Let us recall the Florida Humanities programs that
appeared on our stage during the 2010-2011 Season.
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October 21, 2010 Fredric M. Hitt Historian, Indians Encounter Europeans
Retired trial judge-turned-author Fredric M. Hitt has completed a trilogy of historical novels dealing with the stories of the Timucuan Indians and their early encounters with European settlers. His first and second novels,
Wekiva Winter and Beyond the River of the Sun
received the Florida Historical Society’s coveted Patrick D. Smith
Award as Best Fiction for 2006 and 2008 respectively. Hitt is the only author to be honored twice with the Society's literary award. His most recent novel,
The Last Timucuan tells the heart-rending story of the
events that led to the extinction of the first Floridians. In his
Florida Humanities Series presentation, Hitt will share his unique insights about the relationship between Florida’s natives and the earliest European settlers in our state.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF EVENT: Fredric M. Hitt, prizewinning
author and retired Florida judge, amused and amazed nearly 400 people
at the Emerson Center on October 21 as he related his journey toward
exploring the Timucua Indian culture and history. The Timucuans were
the people who greeted Ponce de Leon and other Spaniards as they
arrived in St. Augustine in 1513.
Spanish opinion was divided as to whether these Indians were friendly
and kind or vicious and hateful. At a time when most white men were 5
to 5-1/2 feet in height, the Timucuan men were often 6 feet tall.
An intelligent group of people, they were easily taught to read and
write by Franciscan fathers, who preserved the language which is known
but rarely spoken today. Once indoctrinated into the ways of European
life, they frequently wrote letters of complaint all the way up the
chain of command to the Spanish king himself, and even the pope.
The Timucuans disappeared as a tribe after 200 years of living with the
Spanish, who brought to America gun battles and European diseases.
- program summary by Joyce Levi, Contributing Editor
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December 2, 2010 Frank Thomas Florida Folk Musician
See a video clip below...
Born and raised in Clay County, Frank Thomas is a native Floridian whose ancestors came to Florida in the late eighteenth century. His family’s direct connection with the land, his strong Florida heritage, and his love of Florida inspired much of his music. Early in his career, Frank toured nationally with the Arkansas Travelers playing rhythm guitar. He has written over five hundred songs about Florida and recorded nine albums including
Cracker Nights, Florida Stories, Bingo!, Spanish Gold, and
Just Another Day. Frank has hosted a weekly singer-songwriter radio show for WMNF-FM in the Tampa area, created an award-wining video entitled "Florida History in Song," and performed before audiences throughout the state and, with the help of his wife, Lisa
(who will participate in this presentation), continues the rich tradition of passing on Florida history through storytelling in song.
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Though he was fighting a
nasty sore throat, Frank Thomas and his talented wife, Lisa, still appeared
at The Emerson Center. They brought along another terrific Florida folk
artist, Emmett Carlisle from Gainesville. The threesome staged a
memorable event before an audience of 500+ people.
Here's a brief video clip of Thomas performing a holiday carol he
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January 20, 2011 Mary Fears Storyteller, Civil War Stories
Mary Fears, a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University and Florida State University, is a professional storyteller, a Civil War reenactor, a genealogist, and the author of four books, including insightful looks at the lives of slaves during the last half of the 19th century. She prefers to tell stories based upon historic documents, rather than fictionalized
enactments. Beyond her performances, Mary has written and directed plays. For over thirty years, she has presented
stage performances in numerous venues, including schools, churches, colleges, museums, and historic sites. She is committed to telling African-American history stories for the education of all listeners.
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February 10, 2011 Ray Arsenault, Ph.D.
Author, "Freedom Riders"
Raymond Arsenault is the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.
A graduate of Princeton University and Brandeis University, where he received his Ph.D., he has been heralded as an accomplished,
prize-winning author. He is a specialist in the political, social, and environmental history of the American South. Among his
extensive list of writing credits, in 2006, he published Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice
(Oxford University Press). According to Eric Foner in the New York Times Book Review, “Arsenault brings vividly to life a defining
moment in modern American history (and) rescues from obscurity the men and women who, at great personal risk, rode public buses
into the South in order to challenge segregation.” This important historical retrospective will be the basis of the author’s
Emerson Center debut.
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March 10, 2011 Andrew Huse
Cultural Commentator and Humorist
Andrew Huse is a librarian and historian with interest in oral history, social history, the state of Florida, and
culinary history. He has written numerous articles in magazines and academic journals, and has recently completed a
centennial history of the Columbia Spanish Restaurant (University Press of Florida, 2009). Huse teaches and speaks
on a variety of topics, and is presently at work on a history of Florida's restaurants and food culture. He works at
the USF Tampa Library's Special Collections department as a librarian and oral historian. Huse lives in Tampa, where
he cooks and writes, sometimes simultaneously.
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April 21, 2011 Jeff Klinkenberg Journalist & Alligator Fan
Florida writer (and alligator aficionado) Jeff Klinkenberg joins us
on April 21st! Jeff writes about Florida culture for the St.
Petersburg Times, and is the author of the book collection of
essays, Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators, published by the
University Press of Florida. Previous anthologies, Seasons of Real
Florida and Dispatches from the Land of Flowers, have been
Vero Beach's own Carl Hiaasen said of him, "If Jeff Klinkenberg isn't
careful, he might give journalism a good name. He has a rare eye for
marvelous detail, and an affectionate ear for those small, wise,
bittersweet voices that tell the true story of Florida."
Southern Living said, "Klinkenberg uncovers the beauty and
mystery of his home state." And the Tampa Tribune wrote, "Klinkenberg
explores what's left of the Florida that existed before it was invaded
by Disney and developers... His beautifully crafted sentences - this is
not mere journalism - astutely evoke people and places."
He'll be talking about the mystique of alligators, with lots of video
and stories to share. We hear he's mesmerizing.
You can review programs from prior years by accessing our