SJR State participates in “2019 Commemoration of 400 Years of African American History”

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In recognition of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619, St. Johns River State College (SJR State) is participating in the “2019 Commemoration of 400 Years of African American History." The College will host a series of impactful events for the community throughout the year, including The Whole Staircase Film Festival: “The Black Atlantic, 1500 - 1800,” Black History Month trivia, a Commemoration speaker series, poetry slams, Juneteenth celebrations and more.

The 400 Years of African American History Commission Act (H.R.1242/Public Law 115-102), which was passed by Congress last year, has established 2019 as a year-long Commemoration “to recognize and highlight the resilience and contributions of African Americans since 1619; to acknowledge the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States; and to educate the public about the arrival of Africans in the United States; and the contributions of African Americans to the United States.”

SJR State’s Dean of Learning Resources Christina Will said, “In recognition of the Commemoration, St. Johns River State College’s Library is partnering with several college and community allies to offer a year-long series of events, which will pay tribute to the rich history of African Americans, as well as the impact African Americans have made throughout the nation and within our own communities. We hope SJR State’s Library events will serve as opportunities for celebration, education and reflection. We look forward to engaging our students and the community through these experiences.”

Commemoration events that kicked off the year for SJR students, faculty and staff included an immersive event in African American history, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” a virtual-reality experience for participants to travel through time to the Harlem Renaissance, as well as to Memphis in 1968 as witnesses to the Sanitation Worker’s Strike, and the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

The community is invited to participate in the “I Am A Man” immersive experience on January 22 - 24. Additional information about this opportunity and other upcoming events and resources can be found at

“The Black Atlantic, 1500 - 1800” will be shown on January 14 at the Orange Park campus and January 16 at the Palatka and St. Augustine campuses.

A Florida School of the Arts performance is also included on the Commemoration calendar, as well as a photo challenge inviting students to explain what African American history means to them and how this history emerges in their lives.

Andrea Harper, president of SJR State’s Orange Park campus Student Government Association, said it made her happy to learn about the College’s participation in the Commemoration. “It’s great to have these extra educational opportunities on campus and not be limited to only learning about African American history from academic classes,” she said.

SJR State President Joe Pickens said, "We are delighted that the College and community are joining hands to celebrate the rich history and culture of African Americans. The list of varied and interesting educational events that the Library has coordinated for 2019 provides meaningful learning opportunities for all of us, so please come learn, engage and celebrate with us."



Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4020