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Kingsley Heritage Celebration

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve

National Park News

The Kingsley Heritage Celebration, an annual event now in its tenth year, is a series of free events held each Saturday afternoon in February 2008 at Kingsley Plantation, a unit of the Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve. The goal of the Kingsley Heritage Celebration is to help the local community explore cultural traditions found in modern American society that originated during the plantation period. One of the highlights will be the Descendants’ Reunion on February 23, 2008, with music, genealogical presentations, storytelling, African dancing and drumming, and descendants reading their ancestors’ letters.

Sponsored by the NPS and the Florida Humanities Council, this year’s Kingsley Heritage Celebration highlights the experience and perseverance of the enslaved men, women, and children held in bondage at Kingsley Plantation. Working in partnership with the University of North Florida, University of Florida, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Jacksonville Sister Cities, and the Shackles of Memory Association in Nantes, France, the event provides global and interdisciplinary perspectives on the history of the plantation era, slavery, and the slave trade in way that is approachable and meaningful to the public.

On February 2nd, Dr. James Cusick presented “Living Through a Time of Revolt: The Kingsleys and the War of 1812.” The talk focused on the little known Patriot War and the American invasion of Spanish East Florida, highlighting how it affected daily life in north Florida - planters and slaves alike.

On February 9th, Jean-Marc Masseaut from the Study Center of the Shackles of Memory Association in Nantes, France, discussed the transatlantic slave trade from a global perspective. After the talk, the University of North Florida (UNF) Brass Ensemble gave a concert on the grounds. Well over 500 people attended. The program and musical presentation were made possible by UNF and the Jacksonville and Nantes Sister Cities Associations. 

On February 16th, Dr. James Davidson gave an archaeology talk and walk focusing on the 2006-2007 archaeology field schools at the Kingsley Plantation Slave Quarters and grounds. Visitors heard the slaves speak to them by the objects they left behind. This is an ongoing project and another field school begins May 2008. The event was co-sponsored by the University of Florida and the Florida Public Archaeology Network.

Upcoming on February 23rd is a full afternoon of events, including a descendants’ reunion. Family representatives descended from owners and slaves will introduce presenters and performers throughout the afternoon and many will participate in a guided letter reading. Special exhibits will show photos of the families through time. A genealogy fair will help visitors discover how to trace their family history by introducing resources from historical societies, genealogy exchanges, and African American genealogy societies.

Highlights include: 100 Youth Inspirational Voices from the Stage Aurora Theatrical Company; “Researching Your Family History” with Dr. Ann Stoddard; “Stories that Fly!” with Deborah Strahorn of the Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia; “Zephaniah Kingsley, World Traveler: A Guided Letter Reading” read by descendants and narrated by Dr. Daniel Schafer. The day will end with a sunset performance at the Slave Quarters by the Tallahassee-based African Caribbean Dance Theatre. There is also a special children’s presentation and plantation era food for purchase.

Full event information, including transcripts and audio from this year’s events are available at:


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