Americana: Florida

Lessons on America's First Pioneers
April 01, 2008 to April 19, 2008

Lessons on America's First Pioneers returns to the secondary school classroom for a series of lessons on Floridian 18th and 19th-century Maroon communities. Playing an important role in the histories of countries such as the Bahamas, Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico, Maroon communities were colonies of fugitive slaves and free blacks who banded together to subsist independently. This exhibition addresses Florida's role as a haven for runaway slaves while drawing connections to the state's on-going role in offering shelter to nationals of nearby Caribbean countries seeking refuge.

Lessons on America's First Pioneers classroom lessons tell stories of Florida as the place of America's first free Black settlements, the relationship between Seminole Indians and freed runaway slaves in the state's northern region, and the Native American and Black influence in the development of Florida as a state. The exhibition also provides a brief history on Spain's occupation of Florida, the Patriot War of 1812, and the First and Second Seminole Wars. Stories of the thriving Maroon communities are told within the historical context of these events to emphasize the important role that they played as some of the state's first settlers.

The use of the chalkboard as a modus for relaying information serves as a commentary on the untold history of free Black civilizations within American classrooms. It also commands a level of attention to the information written on its surface recalling the urgency of writing down notes before a history test. Additionally, this exhibition collaborates with public school teachers to develop these lessons as a means of honoring their often overlooked and undervalued work.

Petrushka Bazin

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