“UF students get immersed in the history of civil rights,” The Gainesville Sun, by Jeff Schweers, March 10, 2014.

In preparation for the upcoming public history program, “The Florida Civil Rights Struggle: Past & Present,” on Wednesday, March 12, the Gainesville Sun highlighted student and staff work in civil rights research and event organizing. Featuring interviews with staff members Sarah Blanc, Jessica Taylor, and Toni-Lee Maitland, as well as volunteer Jasmine Reynolds, the article focuses on the value of involving students in local history work.

“[Students] learn, it’s something that matters,” she said. “They know what they’re doing has a purpose.”

-Jessica Taylor

march 2014 gville

Paul Ortiz: We Must Ensure Latinos Have Better Access to HealthcareThe Gainesville Sun, by Paul Ortiz, February 2014.

In this editorial published in the Gainesville Sun, Dr. Paul Ortiz, director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and associate professor of history at the University of Florida, details problems associated with healthcare access in the Latino community, including language barriers and hostility from state officials, media pundits and vigilante groups that discourage many from enrolling in state exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the provisions of the ACA, the prospect of maintaining the status quo where millions of people do not have decent access to medical care undermines the well being of not only Latino families, children and communities—but the public health of the entire society.

-Paul Ortiz

ReVisioning Black History Month: Linking African American and Latino Histories, Beacon Broadside, by Paul Ortiz, February 24, 2014.

Dr. Paul Ortiz, director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and associate professor of history at the University of Florida, is currently writing Our Separate Struggles Are Really One: African American and Latino Histories, to published by Beacon Press. For Black History Month, Ortiz wrote for the Beacon Broadside progressive blog about parallel histories of African Americans and Latinos in the United States in a “re-envisioning of American history: as a shared narrative of struggle for justice, dignity, and equality for all.”

In the context of Black History Month, the African American century beginning in the 1820s and extending to the eve of the Great Depression was an epoch of Pan-Africanism, anti-imperialism, and expressions of solidarity with a pantheon of Latin America’s greatest freedom fighters including Vicente Guerrero, José María Morelos, José Martí, Antonio Maceo, and Augusto Sandino—among many others.

-Paul Ortiz

Sign up with StoryCorps to share a life story for posterityThe Gainesville Sun, by Jeff Schweers, January 22, 2014.

From February 26 to March 7, StoryCorps will be interviewing North Central Floridians about their lives as part of a cross-country tour. StoryCorps is national oral history project devoted to recording brief conversations between private citizens, many of which are then broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition. Its funding comes from private, government and corporate foundations. UF will be a local repository of the StoryCorps archive, with interviews available on the UF Digital Collections library. The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program is working with StoryCorps to identify student groups and outlying, rural, Spanish-speaking communities around Alachua County to be interviewed.

To make a reservation for the StoryCorps MobileBooth Tour, call 1-800-850-4406 or visit storycorps.org.

“These stories are going to tell us more about who we are as multilingual, multicultural people,” [Dr. Paul] Ortiz said.


Starting at 10 a.m., people can sign up for reservations to record their oral histories when the MobileBooth comes to Gainesville for a five-week stand next month by calling StoryCorps’ toll-free line or jumping online.


UF Oral History director merges academics and activism, The Gainesville Sun, by Jovahn Huertas, January 3, 2014.

Dr. Paul Ortiz, the director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, was recently profiled in the Gainesville Sun, covering his academics and activist involvement. The article highlights student voices, including SPOHP alum Caroline Vickers, academic colleagues including UF Provost Donald Glover, and others discussing Ortiz’s contributions to the university and community.

Much of the program’s work focuses on those who may not get their stories fully told. The interviews often allow the program to challenge stereotypes and bring light to injustices, [Ortiz] said. It is those outrages that fire his soul.

How to Get Funding for Public HistoryHistory News Network, by David Austin Walsh, January 2, 2014.

The History News Network recently published the following article to highlight the ways in which different public history programs generate interest, community support, and funding. Both the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida and “History Moves” at the University of Chicago are highlighted. Dr. Ortiz details SPOHP’s approach, which engages several different angles: “sending students out into local communities, building bridges, emphasizing hard skills, and above all aggressively advocating for resources.”


“We’ve made the argument to administrators,” [Dr. Paul Ortiz] said Thursday in a session at the American Historical Association annual meeting, “that public history is actually a STEM field of sorts, because students learn skills about social networking, writing, researching, and audio/visual production.”

“Siempre Adelante: A Look at Faith and the Immigrant Struggle” and “History and the people who make it: Allen Cooper,” The Gainesville Iguana, from the SPOHP Archives and Jessica Taylor, November/December 2013.

Allen Cooper, an interviewee in the Mississippi Freedom Project, gave an oral history interview during a Freedom Summer reunion of civil rights workers in 2008, excerpted here in the Gainesville Iguana focusing on his activism and involvement. Jessica Taylor, a graduate coordinator at SPOHP, also wrote a feature on the recently-premiered documentary, “Siempre Adelante.”

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The Gainesville Iguana published an interview from the Mississippi Freedom Project with Allen Cooper.
nov 2013 iguana siempre
A feature on “Siempre Adelante” was also published in the November/December issue.


Paul Ortiz: Honoring all of Florida’s military veterans, The Gainesville Sun, by Dr. Paul Ortiz, November 10, 2013.

Dr. Paul Ortiz wrote the following editorial for The Gainesville Sun on Veterans Day weekend about the importance of recognizing the service of all military veterans, including African Americans, whose service is frequently ignored in historical narratives. Ortiz points out the great irony of memorials throughout Florida that recognize honor white Confederate soldiers, including one on the grounds of the Alachua County Courthouse in Gainesville, while no such remembrances are accorded to African American soldiers who risked their lives in WWI.

Black Floridians deserve special recognition for their service to this nation during the Great War because they fought on behalf of a country that did not recognize their rights to equal citizenship either before or after the war.

-Dr. Paul Ortiz

“Oral History of Coastal Change,” Planning for Coastal Change in Levy County, by Trey Bonds, October 28, 2013.

Planning for Coastal Change in Levy County examines scientific studies and oral histories of coastal change in Levy County to prepare for the future. On October 28, the organization released this video, compiled with the help of SPOHP and Florida Sea Grant to record interviews with long-time local residents on the slow increases of sea level rise in their area.

“Coming home at last; Stetson Kennedy’s work to reside at UF,” The Gainesville Sun, by Jeff Schweers, October 22, 2013.

On October 22, 2013, a symposium of events celebrated the donation of Stetson Kennedy’s papers to the University of Florida. The official donation was the result of years of work from the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, USF Libraries, and UF George Smathers Libraries Special Collections, led by Jim Cusick, who oversees the Florida History Collection. Kennedy’s papers join those of other giants in Florida intellectual history and culture, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Zora Neale Hurston.