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The Florida Humanities Series is our gift to the community.

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.

Now, you can download an informative flier describing the 2012-2013 Florida Humanities Series.

Join us in saying special thanks to Marine Bank & Trust, our sponsor for the 2012-2013 Florida Humanities Series.

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 2012-2013, 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 2012 and April 2013, 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.

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October 25, 2012, 7pm
Robert S. Carr
Florida/Caribbean Archaeologist


In 2013, we will observe 500 years since Ponce de Leon sailed from Puerto Rico to discover and claim Bimini for the King of Spain. However, historical documents reveal that the “Bimini” he discovered was actually Florida.

In Robert S. Carr’s presentation entitled “Finding Bimini: Ponce de Leon’s Florida,” this American archaeologist will discuss how knowledge of Florida made its way to European explorers in the early sixteenth century prior to its “discovery?” This presentation will examine both prehistoric and early historic contacts between Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba; and the mystery of the Fountain of Youth.

Since 1999, Carr has served as Executive Director of the Florida-based Archaeological and Historical Conservancy. He has authored numerous scholarship studies on archaeological issues, particularly related to South Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba.


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December 6, 2012, 7PM
Randall "Big Daddy” Webster
Musician, Composer, Educator


Randall "Big Daddy" Webster is an accomplished singer-songwriter penning tunes both for himself and artists around the world. The topic for his appearance at The Emerson Center will be “An Introspection of Blues.”

There's an undeniable musical connection between Webster's Blues and his audience. Says Big Daddy; "The tradition of playing music from the soul is much the same around the world as it is in America and people tap into that. The mission is to touch people's primal core with my Blues - "Ceol Dan Anum" in Irish. And hopefully bring positive change to their lives."

Big Daddy has toured overseas fifty-three times to 28 countries, and he has release eight critically acclaimed solo, duo and band CD releases.

The "Chicago Blues Annual" says, "Randall 'Big Daddy' Webster has lived and breathed the Blues for over 25 years; first soaking it in as a wild child while growing up in the shadow of the Windy City (Chicago) during the 1960's and 70's; later swimming the undercurrent of 'Deep River Blues' while jamming with Bluesmen at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Ohio waterways during the 80's; and for the last twenty-five plus years he's tread through the swamp Blues of Florida's backwoods jook joints making the gators growl along the way. He's a true champion of America's great indigenous music. The influences cut sharp, the tunes run deep, and the spirit held high when Randall 'Big Daddy' Webster stirs up his spicy gumbo of original home cooked Blues. Trusting his four-octave voice, pulsing rhythm guitar, and beating foot makes it all simmer into a fine Blues brew!"

And as a board member of the Big Bend Homeless Coalition and founder of Blues For Humanity, Webster has helped raise money and awareness for humanitarian issues throughout the Florida Panhandle, the Southeastern USA, and overseas.


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January 17, 2013, 7PM
Alex Stepick, Ph.D.
Immigration Law Authority


Dr. Alex Stepick will speak on the topic of “Immigration's Impact on Florida and the United States.”

Dr. Stepick has been studying immigration and its impact on Miami for 30 years. Along the way, he has published nine books along with many journal articles and book chapters. He is director of the Immigration and Ethnicity Institute, professor of Global and Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University. His article on U.S. refugee law is still used as a definitive law school reference.

In 2008-09, Stepick held a Fulbright Fellowship at the Institute of European Ethnology of Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. His co-authored book, City on the Edge, has won two national awards. Pride Against Prejudice is the primary source for understanding Haitians in the U.S. His recent book, This Land is Our Land, has been described as “superior” and providing a “new framework for understanding immigration and interethnic relations.” His co-edited volume, Immigrant Faiths: Transforming Religious Life in America was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, Social, & Behavioral Sciences for 2006. The American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology awarded him the Margaret Mead Award for his work with Haitian refugees. His law review article on U.S. refugee and asylum law is used as a definitive reference in classrooms at major law schools throughout the U.S. In 1979-80, he was awarded a Congressional Fellowship to work in the U.S. Congress.

His most recent book is Churches and Charity: Immigrant Religion and Civic Engagement.


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February 21, 2013, 7PM
Dana Ste.Claire
Historian, Florida Cracker Culture


Dana Ste.Claire spent every summer of his childhood deep in the Ocala National Forest near Scrambletown – a location that is arguably the “Cracker Capital” of Florida. His early immersion in the Cracker way of life led to his interest in Crackers as a culture. He was the first historian to view Crackers from a cultural perspective.

Ste.Claire is a former feature columnist with the Orlando Sentinel, a PBS television host, authored three books, including an award-winning one about Crackers. His Emerson Center presentation will be entitled “The Cracker Culture in Florida History.”

Currently, Ste.Claire is Director of the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration, a four-year linear event which includes the Spanish Constitution Bicentennial anniversary in 2012, the 500th anniversary of discovery of Florida by Juan Ponce de Leon in 2013, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act in 2014, and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine in 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 2015.

Prior to his 450th Commemoration position, Ste.Claire served as the Director of the Department of Heritage Tourism and Historic Preservation for the City of St. Augustine, with oversight of local historic programs. He also served as National Director of Museums for Historic Tours of America, Inc., where he designed and developed museums, historic attractions, themed destinations, themed retail stores and interpretive programs across the country from San Diego to Boston.

Ste.Claire holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of South Florida in archaeology and cultural resource management with post-masters graduate work in anthropology and management. He is a former museum director, professional archaeologist, and college/university instructor. When his schedule allows, he travels and performs with the Great Southern Cracker Roadshow with author, Janis Owens.


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March 21, 2013, 7pm
Virginia Lynn Moylan
Biographer of Zora Neale Hurston


A last-minute schedule change is producing a unique opportunity for attendees at The Emerson Center's Humanities Series to get special insights into the life of Zora Neale Hurston, the American folklorist, anthropologist, and Harlem Renaissance author.

When Steve Smith, the "Dean" of the Ringling Clowns, made a last-minute cancellation, we filled the evening with a wonderful alternative.

Now, Virginia Lynn Moylan will appear on The Emerson Center’s stage on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. Moylan is a contributing author to The Inside Light: New Critical Essays on Zora Neale Hurston and author of Zora Neale Hurston's Final Decade, a book which combines impressive knowledge of African-American people and their literature as well as the rich history and culture of Florida. Through an audio visual presentation and insightful anecdotes, she will reveal details about the stormy live of this great artist and her enduring legacy.

Hurston's diverse and colorful life is an incredible chronicle of a talented Black woman's passage during a time of cultural change. Her death, in poverty and obscurity, is a contrast to her vast literary contributions.

Though she only spent\ the final few years of her life in Fort Pierce, the city proudly claims her asi ts own. In fact, Hurston's house in Fort Pierce is a National Historic Landmark and Fort Pierce celebrates Hurston annually through various events including a multi-day festival at the end of March known as Zora Fest.

Moylan teaches literature and English in Palm Beach County. She is also a founding member of the annual Zora Festival in Fort Pierce, a speaker at the Amelia Island Annual Book Festival, and a 2011 recipient of the Florida Book Award Silver Medal for nonfiction.

This presentation is free and seating is available on first-come-first-served basis. With the completion of our new elevator, the auditorium is now completely handicapped-accessible..


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April 11, 2013, 7pm

Jon McBride
NASA Astronaut


Former astronaut and retired Navy captain Jon McBride will speak to us on the topic: The Florida Space Program: Its Past, Present and Future.

McBride is currently a member of the Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Encounter team. His naval service began in 1965 with flight training at Pensacola, and as a naval aviator he flew 64 combat missions in Southeast Asia. He became an astronaut in 1987 and was pilot of the first Challenger mission in space.

Born August 14, 1943 in West Virginia, McBride attended West Virginia University and received a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1971. He did graduate work in Human Resource Management at Pepperdine University.

He has flown over 40 different types of military and civilian aircraft and piloted the Navy "Spirit of '76" bicentennial painted F 4J Phantom in various air shows during the 1970’s. He has logged more than 8,800 hours flying time—including 4,700 hours in jet aircraft.

McBride became an astronaut in August 1979. He was pilot of STS 41 G, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on October 5, 1984, aboard the Orbiter Challenger. This 197 hour mission concluded with a landing at Kennedy Space Center on October 13, 1984.

In May 1989, McBride retired from NASA and the Navy in order to pursue a business career in West Virginia and Arizona. In 1996, he unsuccessfully vied for the Republican nomination for Governor of West Virginia.

In 2008, McBride retired and is currently living near Cocoa, FL. In recent years, he has been active in the "Lunch with an Astronaut" program at Kennedy Space Center.



You can review programs from prior years by accessing our archive pages.


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