Jacksonville, FL—The National Park Service invites the public to the 14th Annual Kingsley Heritage Celebration. This year the event focuses on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which was called by many as the “War of Jubilee”. This tumultuous time in our history signaled the end of bondage for more than four million enslaved African Americans. In this conflict, African Americans fought as soldiers, worked as spies, and spoke out against the horrors of slavery. This year’s celebration honors the role of African Americans in the Civil War as our nation remembers this important anniversary.
Special afternoon events will be held on February 18th and 25th, and are sponsored by the National Park Service’s Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. These events are free and open to the public. The goal of this annual celebration is to allow the local community to explore cultural traditions found in modern American society that originated during the plantation period.
“These events are a celebration of the determination and perseverance of the human spirit to survive against incredible odds,” explains Superintendent Barbara Goodman. “The goal is to present this history in meaningful ways to our community. The arts have united people through the ages, and it will help us learn more about our shared history through the cultural influences that we hear and see every day.”
Surrounded by ancient live oaks and stately palms, Kingsley Plantation overlooks the Fort George River on Fort George Island in the Timucuan Preserve. The rich and diverse history of the plantation includes the story of wealthy English planter Zephaniah Kingsley and his wife Anna Madgigine Jai, who was born in Senegal and purchased by Kingsley as a slave. The history also includes the stories of the men, women, and children who struggled to survive enslavement, in an era when wealth was sometimes measured in human property.
Kingsley Plantation, is a unit of the National Park Service’s Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville. Zephaniah Kingsley owned and operated a 1,000-acre plantation on the island during the first half of the nineteenth century. In addition to the scheduled events, visitors may also visit the grounds that include the original plantation house, kitchen house, barn, and the remains of 25 tabby slave cabins. The Plantation house is itself Florida’s oldest standing (1798) plantation era structure. The grounds offer perhaps the most graphic evidence of slave living quarters and daily life experiences in the state, if not the South.
Located off Heckscher Drive/A1A one-half mile north of the St. Johns River ferry landing, Kingsley Plantation is open daily, at no charge, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. For more information, call 904.251.3537, or go to http://www.nps.gov/timu, where you can access this full text press release and detailed biographies of the presenters and performers.
*** For a Detailed Schedule of Events - See Page 2***
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
11676 Palmetto Avenue
Jacksonville, FL 32226
904 251-3537 phone
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
Detailed Schedule of Events Details of the events are as follows:
Saturday, February 18: 1:30 p.m. -Rose Person, a Harriet Tubman reenactor, will recite poetry and explain Harriet Tubman’s role in the Civil War as a spy, nurse, and occasional laundress, including her role in the Civil War events of Jacksonville. Ms. Person’s performances with the Tubman African American Museum have been lauded as “deeply moving”.
2:00 p.m. -Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, folk musicians, will present their poignant performance “The Blue and Gray in Black and White”, the story of the Civil War told through music and song. In over forty years of performing, Sparky and Rhonda have performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as well as NPR's On Point, Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, and Morning Edition.
Kids Corner: Throughout the day, park staff will present children’s activities relating to the Civil War and the Underground Railroad. Kids will be able to design their own drums, make a rag doll to take home and even send secret messages like Civil War spies.
The Kingsley Plantation Main House will be open for viewing from 10 am until 1:30 pm.
Saturday, February 25: 1:00 p.m. -54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first all-black regiment of the Civil War, a group of soldiers that paved the way for other black men to join the Union army, in the form of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), will be the topic of the day.
Volunteers from the local reenacting group, which portrays the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, will be on hand to discuss the experiences of the first all-black regiment of the Civil War. The original regiment spent time in Northeast Florida during the Civil War.
Park rangers and volunteers in period costumes will demonstrate various tasks involved in the operation of a large plantation. Demonstrations will include cooking, spinning, weaving, dyeing with indigo, woodworking, and gardening.
For more information, please call Kingsley Plantation at (904) 251-3537 or visit http://www.nps.gov/timu.
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