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John G. Riley Museum to host statewide conference on Florida Emancipation

Posted at 7:06 PM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 19:06:57-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Taking a look at black history in Florida, Tallahassee's own black history museum- the John G. Riley House- will host a statewide conference focused on the past, present, and future of race in the sunshine state.

"We are so excited about that. The interesting thing about this is that this came about as a result of trying to educate residents on the history, the rich history that Florida has regarding emancipation," said Tallahassee City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox.

Focusing on three dates: January 1, 1863, and May 20 and December 6, 1865, the conference will bring to life the history of Florida's emancipation.

"Emancipation was a journey. It wasn't just a one-day event, and it was here in the city of Tallahassee on the steps of what is now known as the Knott House where the general rode in and read the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves. it was on that day, the celebration began, and continues to this day," she said.

The City of Tallahassee's John G. Riley Center & Museum and the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network's "Journey to Emancipation" will be an interactive three-day statewide conference focused on the signing of the Emancipation, Florida's Emancipation, and the 13th Amendment.

It all begins with a private screening of "Invisible History". The documentary is made by Valerie Scoon, a professor in the Florida State University Film School. The film will focus on lesser-known stories of slavery in Florida.

The conference will also go into the history of Florida's role in the Underground Railroad, abandoned African-American cemeteries, and the Civil War.

The interactive piece includes an emancipation graveside reenactment, a heritage tour, and music and foods of the period.

"Our history is a living history. We can look at what happened in the past, we're going to look at what's presently going on, and what are the goals and plans for the future," said Williams-Cox.

The Commissioner sharing particular excitement for the interactive components.

So many of us learn from hands-on experience and being able to touch and feel and see these things and understand why these things are the way they are. We felt it very important that it wasn't just going to be a talk to you kind of series, it was going to be a learn as you go."

Because of COVID-19, space is limited. There are 100 spots available. Commissioner Williams-Cox says about half of those spots are already taken by people throughout the state and country.

"One of the goals to come out of this is we're hoping that we're going to reach people who don't know the history. We're going to reach people who need to know the history and who will share and will continue it," she said.

The conference is December 5 to December 7 in Tallahassee. More details and the link to register can be found here.