Florida Lecture Series Returns With Diverse Lineup of Speakers

Sep 6, 2022

by Raymond Beasock
Senior Staff Writer

The Lawton M. Chiles Jr., Center for Florida History is proud to announce the 2022-23 Florida Lecture Series lineup.

The six speakers offer an eclectic view of distinct periods and important events that have helped shape Florida’s rich history.

“Our series this year includes topics as diverse as Florida’s Banking Crash of 1926, stories of Cuban exiles in the 1960s, Tampa’s Rock and Roll scene in the 1970s, stories of violence on Florida’s cattle frontier, and finally on March 16, 2023, local favorite Bob Kealing will conclude our series with “Good Day Sunshine State: How the Beatles Rocked Florida,” Professor of History and the Director of the Lawton M. Chiles Jr., Center for Florida History Dr. James M. Denham said.

The Lawton M. Chiles, Jr., Florida Lecture Series is a forum that brings speakers to the Florida Southern College campus to explore Florida life and culture through a wide range of disciplines, including history, public affairs, law, sociology, criminology, anthropology, literature, and art. The overall objective of the series is to bring members of the community, the faculty, and the student body together to interact with and learn from leading scholars in their fields.

All lectures will start at 7 p.m. and be delivered in Branscomb Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. The talks are free and open to the public.

Kicking off this year’s Florida Lecture Series will be returning speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jack E. Davis on Sept. 15. Davis is the Rothman Family Chair in the Humanities at the University of Florida. Davis has previously spoken about environmental topics and this time will be no different as he offers a glimpse into his new book The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird. In this book, Davis explores the history and significance of the Bald Eagle, and includes stories of the founding fathers, rapacious hunters, heroic bird rescuers and the lives of the majestic animals themselves.

Florida State University Professor Dr. Raymond Vickers will take the stage at Branscomb on Oct. 6. Dr. Vickers is a lawyer and entrepreneur with a long history of studying and understanding the economic ebb and flow of financial systems. His lecture will focus on Florida’s Banking Crash of 1926, a pivotal national catastrophe connected to the Florida land boom of the 1920s that contributed to the New York Stock Market Crash of 1929.

On Nov. 17, former reporter and lawyer David L. Powell will deliver a talk on his book Ninety Miles and a Lifetime Away: Memories of Early Cuban Exiles. The book and lecture gives insight into the influx of Cuban refugees that fled Fidel Castro’s regime for a chance at a better life in the United States. Powell’s work also gives historical background that illuminates a pivotal period in the context of the Cold War and how the US government’s Cuban Refugee Assistance Program had far-reaching effects on refugee policy, bilingual education and child welfare programs.

Rollins College History Professor Claire Strom will be in the Hollis Room to start the Spring 2023 semester’s history lecture portion. Strom is a published author and a specialist in agricultural history, the American South, the Progressive Era, and public health. The topic of Strom’s lecture will be Violence in the Rural South: Murder, Ticks and Cows, where she will look at Florida cattle farmers’ sometimes violent reaction to mandatory tick eradication treatment by the government.

Music dominates the final two lectures of the 2022-23 series.

Former Florida Southern student Rick Norcross will share stories and songs from his venerable career as a musician and journalist. Norcross’ talk “From Florida Southern College to London to Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Elton John & Mick Jagger,” tells his story as he made his way from a freshman at Florida Southern to playing the folk clubs of England in 1965 to becoming a music journalist for the Tampa Bay Times during the late 60s and early 70s. Norcross’ long career and multitude of experiences make for an exciting and entertaining night of music and stories.

Bob Kealing finishes the Florida Lecture Series slate with a look at one of the most iconic bands in the history of music, The Beatles. Kealing’s book Good Day Sunshine State: How the Beatles Rocked Florida is a look into the nearly two weeks The Beatles spent in Florida during their watershed year of 1964. Keating will discuss the little-known nexus between The Beatles, Martin Luther King Jr., and civil rights activism in Northeast Florida.