Join the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program for a live YouTube Premiere where viewers will be able to live chat with producers, writers, and students involved in “The Making of the Institute of Black Culture.” Tune in Friday, May 8 at 7 pm!  Then head over to our Instagram @spohp for behind the scenes commentary at 7:45 pm. Stay tuned for the YouTube Premiere of “The Making of La Casita” on May 15!

The Solidarity Sessions team is continuing its commitment to foster discussions centered on Black and Latinx issues. We intend to continue our originally scheduled Solidarity Sessions at the institutes whenever campus is reopened. However, while COVID-19 is keeping many of us at home to protect our community, now is a critical time to talk about those left most vulnerable by our healthcare system. We are asking for help securing contacts for interviews with those who can speak to Black and Latinx experiences in healthcare in the context of the coronavirus. We will be using these interviews to craft a podcast edition of Solidarity Sessions that informs how our communities are navigating this pandemic.

These contacts include people you know who are:

  • Healthcare Professionals: Doctors, nurses, caretakers or assisted living attendants.
  • Patients or potential patients experiencing boundaries accessing quality care.
  • Scholars or researchers who specialize in the study of healthcare disparities.
  • Activists or organizations whose work focuses on alleviating healthcare disparities within Black, Latinx, low-income, undocumented or incarcerated communities.
  • Any other individuals whose experience is relevant to this dialog.

These contacts do not have to live in Gainesville and should be willing to be interviewed over the phone. These oral history interviews will be archived by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program within the UF Digital Collections and made available for public access. If you know of anyone who may be interested in participating in the project or if you have any questions please email one or both of our Solidarity Sessions coordinators Aliya Miranda at and Isabella Oliver at

We hope you are all taking care during this difficult time. We’ve loved having discussions with you all this first semester of Solidarity Sessions and we thank you for supporting this series. Stay resilient and supportive of one another! We’ll see you soon.

Dear SPOHP’ers,

Today is a great day in the state of Florida! I’m writing to inform you
that the University of Florida Academic Senate has just voted
unanimously to award Attorney John Due the Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters.

The faculty voted unanimously in support of the nomination at the UF
Senate meeting today.

The presenters emphasized Mr. Due‘s exceptional work on behalf of human
rights and civil rights broadly, as well as the outstanding role he has
played as a mentor to countless University of Florida students!

For the past twelve years, Mr. Due has spent time with SPOHP MFP
travelers on our way to Mississippi, has visited with us in Gainesville
and he has lectured in many Levin Law seminars. I cannot begin to count
all of the students who have been inspired to become social justice,
immigrant rights, and human rights lawyers after getting the “John Due
Law Lecture.”

As many of you know, the nomination has been a two-year process, and I
am so grateful for the support that I have received from you all along
the way!

I will let you know as we learn more details in the days to come
regarding the doctoral ceremony.

Thank You,

Vietnam War Veteran and  Veterans For Peace activist Scott Camil is the subject of a new graphic novel by Eve Gilbert titled Winter Warrior. 

The book relays Camil’s life growing up in Florida in the 1960s as he was indoctrinated with anti-communist sentiment while also developing a deep seeded desire to fight for his country. After joining the marines and experiencing combat in Vietnam, he develops a new sense of purpose as a civilian and decides to dedicate his life to revealing the truth about the war.  Eve Gilbert interprets Camil’s story through Winter Warrior with striking detail and care.  Winter Warrior captures the brutal reality of the war and the bleak political reality on the domestic front. Winter Warrior recounts both the personal journey of one American and his need for political engagement when his conscience collides with American foreign policy during the height of the Cold War.

Scott Camil will be hosting a book talk this weekend at the Civic Media Center on January 11th, 2020, from 2PM-4PM.

The Civic Media Center is located downtown at 433 S. Main St.

(Parking is available on SE 5th Ave or across Main Street.)



On Wednesday, October 16th, 2019, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) at UF will host a public program at Pugh Hall titled “Mississippi Freedom Project Panel.” MFP is an experiential learning initiative where students interview civil rights movement veterans in the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta region. For 12 years, UF students have documented the efforts of teachers, museum professionals, high school students and others to apply the lessons of the freedom movement today. This summer, the SPOHP student team stopped in Montgomery to visit the Equal Justice Initiative’s “From Slavery to Mass Incarceration” museum and memorial to lynching victims. Next, the team traveled to Natchez, Mississippi to help restore a historically black cemetery.


The Elaine Legacy Center in Phillips County, Arkansas invited SPOHP to help commemorate the 100thanniversary of the Elaine Massacre. UF students were to document the Willow Tree Memorial that commemorated the Elaine Massacre before it was destroyed by vandals less than a week later. The students also spent a day with the African American community in Glendora, Mississippi where vandals had recently wrecked historical markers near the Emmett Till Museum.  MFP gives students opportunities to form relationships with individuals whose work on behalf of civil rights and human rights has changed the course of American history.

The 12thAnnual Mississippi Freedom Project Panel will take place on Wednesday, October 16th, 2019 from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm inPugh Hall’s Ocora at theUniversity of Florida. The panel session will be followed by a Q&A session and information on how to apply for next year’s fieldwork trip!

Panelists will include:

  • Alwin Hopf, Fulbright Scholar and graduate student in Agricultural and Biological Engineering
  • Megan Pitt, Undergraduate student pursuing double major in Economics and Political Science and a double minor in History and Chinese
  • Julian Valdivia, University Scholar Program student majoring in History
  • Sarah Louis, Undergraduate student majoring in Political Science
  • Amanda Baret, Undergraduate student pursing a double major in Criminology & Law and African American Studies
  • Omar Sanchez, Undergraduate student majoring in English and SPOHP Coordinator
  • Aishwarya Kunta, Undergraduate student pursuing a double major in History and Biology on the Pre-Med Track


For more information:

Parking queries, contact or call (352) 392-7168.(Parking is very limited. Call soon!)


The MFP archive is stored at the George Smathers Libraries (, which now features over 200 interviews, digital podcasts, teacher’s civil rights history guides, panels and community organizing workshops with civil rights legends.


Please share this event with your colleagues and add them to the syllabi of your fall courses. We can provide sign in sheets for classes that make this event an extra credit activity. Flyer is attached.For information about this event and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP), please call (352) 392-7168 or visit our web site:

The 2019 MFP field trip was supported and sponsored by private donors as well as the UF African American Studies Program, the Center for Gender, Sexualities and Women’s Studies Research, George A. Smathers Libraries, and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

In 2019, the University of Florida’s African American Studies Program will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The program began in 1969 and selected its first director in 1970. The late Dr. Ronald Foreman was a tireless advocate for the program from 1970 until his retirement in 2000. We will host a number of programs this year and will include information on the website. Please join us as we celebrate the education of individuals about African American life and culture for the last 50 years and our plan to continue doing so in the years to come.

The theme for the year will be “Sankofa: Building Upon the Power of the Past.” The first event will take place on Thursday, January 10th, from 6:30pm-8:30pm. The title of this event is “Honoring the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Using the Power of Spoken Word” and will be held in the Harn Museum Auditorium (3259 Hull Road). Several campus and local community artists will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through the power of spoken word poetry.

On Saturday February 2nd at 6pm, the “Herstory” Program will take place at Flavet Field (off of Woodlawn Drive between Museum and Stadium Road). The UF Group, SISTUHS Inc., will provide moral and educational guidance to women through the theatrical presentation of the African-American Woman’s experiences. The event will showcase black women through black art, hair, music, beauty, health, fashion, and overall the Black culture and experience, with the theme “HerRoots, HerVision, HerStory.”

On Wednesday February 13th, a “Women of Color and the Law” panel discussion will take place (room tba) from 3pm-4:30pm. Attorneys Tiffani Lee, Julie Liang, and Jany Martinez-Ward will discuss their experiences as women of color in the legal profession. This event is sponsored through a grant from the Chesterfield Smith Fund at the UF Smathers Library.

On Friday, February 22nd, the annual Dr. Ronald Foreman Lecture will take place with a presentation entitled, “Women of the Black Lives Matter Movement: An Evening with Dr. Stacey Patton and Ms. Lezley McSpadden (Mother of Michael Brown).” This presentation will take place in the Rion Ballroom of the Reitz Union from 6pm-8pm.

SPOHP staffer, Roberto G. Muñoz-Pando, volunteers as the networking coordinator for the GRACE Grows Garden, part of the GRACE Marketplace. GRACE Marketplace is a one-stop homeless facility serving Gainesville and Alachua County.

The Cotton Club Museum and Cultural Center (CCMCC):

The Cotton Club Museum is a community collaboration passionately dedicated to preserving, promoting, and protecting the African American history and culture of North Central Florida through education and the arts- with an emphasis on music!

Visit the museum at: 837 SE 7th Avenue, Gainesville, Florida.





The High Notes practiced two to three times a week in one of the band member’s home. This photo was taken in 1957 while performing at a local fraternity house. (Band members from left to right) Vocalist James Henry, 27, Marion McClellan, 30, Richard McClellan, 27, Hampton McClellan, 24.


Project Overview

The Cotton Club site consists of the Cotton Club/Blue Note (often referred to as the Hall), the Perryman Grocery Store, and four shot-gun houses. All of the buildings are on the 1950 Sanborn Map in their current locations. The CCMCC project aims to restore for adaptive use all six buildings, creating a heritage tourism destination that will provide a glimpse of African American life during the period of racial segregation in the United States.

Preserving the Cotton Club building, along with the Perryman Store and the four shotgun houses that share the 1.6 acre site, will ensure that future generations never forget the historic richness and legacy of a time and place that impacted and enriched the lives of an entire nation of people.

Plans for the site, which have been developed in collaboration with Santa Fe College and the University of Florida’s Powell Center for Construction and Environment in the Rinker School of Building Construction, will utilize all of the structures on the site. The Cotton Club building will house a museum and serve as a large-scale performance space.  The Perryman store is designated to become a café and mini museum with a farmer’s market for local growers. In addition to the existing structures, an additional building has been constructed to house the necessary support facilities such as restrooms.


The High Notes’ business card used in the mid ’50s. The band performed at the

Cotton Club of Gainesville and traveled to surrounding counties to perform popular rhythm and blues music


History of the Cotton Club Building

The wood frame structure that became the Cotton Club in Gainesville, Florida was built by U. S. soldiers between 1940 -1941 as a Post Exchange (PX) at Camp Blanding in Starke, Florida north of Gainesville. In March of 1946, at the end of World War II, the building was placed on sale, along with several others. William and Eunice Perryman, who owned a grocery store on what was then called the East Depot Avenue or Cecil Avenue (now SE 7th Ave) in Gainesville’s Springhill community made a successful bid for one of the PX buildings.  They moved it, in several pieces, down the Waldo Road to a lot near their store.

The building was opened for the first time in its new location as the Perry Theater. At that time a cement projection room was installed in the north end of the building, which was a requirement for buildings that housed flammable film for theatre use.  According to Gainesville City Directories, the Perry Theater was in operation during 1948 and 1949.  In keeping with the segregation laws of the period, the Perry Theater was opened to serve the African Americans only.  The theater only survived a short time because during that era African Americans in Gainesville also patronized the all Black Lincoln and Rose theaters on what was then known as Seminary Lane (NW 5th Avenue).

Shortly after the close of the Perry Theater, the building became the site for what was then called a “big bands’ club” operated by Sarah McKnight. Charles and Sarah McKnight named the club after the famous Cotton Club in Harlem, which was experiencing its most successful years. The Gainesville Cotton Club is listed in the 1951-1952 city directory as a place where beverages were sold. As the club gained popularity, it hosted performances by African American performers as they worked the Chit’lin Circuit, many of whom are now hailed nationally and internationally for their musical contributions to the world. The McKnights, who ran the Cotton Club, revealed that African American entertainers who appeared at the Cotton Club and went on to attain national fame included James Brown, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Brook Benton, and Bo Diddley.  Unfortunately, the City of Gainesville refused to renew the club’s liquor license and the “lively run” of the Cotton Club came to an end.

The Cotton Club building continued to serve as an entertainment venue between 1953 and 1959.  During that time, it was described as a ballroom and was named the Blue Note Club.  With a jukebox for entertainment and beer as its primary alcoholic beverage, the Blue Note Club never attained the popularity of the Cotton Club but it provided many evenings of entertainment.




When the Blue Note Club closed in the late 1950s, the building was purchased by Kenneth Gibbs and used as a warehouse for the Babcock Furniture Company until 1970, after which it remained vacant. In 1995, the Cotton Club building, along with the other five structures on the 1.6 acre site, was sold to Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal, which sits on the Southwest corner of the Cotton Club site at 730 Southeast 8th Street.

The original Cotton Club site held nine structures. The six that remain standing at this time include the large building, known as the Cotton Club, a small wooden grocery store with signage on the building that names it as the Perryman Grocery Store, and four “shotgun” houses. Two of the shotgun houses face SE 8th Street, adjacent to the church, while the store is on the corner of SE 8th Street and SE 7th Avenue. The remaining two shotgun houses are on SE 9th Street behind the Cotton Club building.

The structures on the Cotton Club site are significant in their portrayal of life during the period of segregation of the races in America’s history. They give presence to an era in African American history which is disappearing without being recorded. It was a time during which most newspapers carried very little, if any, news about Black people. The local Gainesville newspaper was no exception.  A small section of the newspaper was given to an African American columnist, Mr. Childs, who reported obituaries, usually of the more prominent Blacks. When space allowed, Mr. Childs reported news items of events in the community. Vivian Filer remembers being in the paper in 1955 because she won a $0.25 pack of notebook paper for her skills on the dance floor. Her dancing partner was the son of the family that owned the Dunbar Hotel, the only Black hotel in Gainesville.  Many of the accomplishments of African Americans were left untold, especially that of the largest segment of the African American community, the struggling, hardworking segment.

The Cotton Club, site with its historic significance, illustrates the close proximity in which people worked, shopped, played, and worshipped. The buildings, with their weathered siding and hurricane damaged roofs, are easily overlooked, however, doing so would be a tragic mistake.



Event Dates: Thursday, March 21, 2019 to Saturday, March 23rd

Location: George A. Smathers Libraries, Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida & Locations yet to be decided

Free registration is available by clicking THIS LINK:

2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the African American History Project at the University of Florida. Funded by the UF Office of the Provost, this research initiative has resulted in over twenty-five public history programs, university seminars on African American studies, conference presentations and scores of community-based oral history and Black History workshops across the country. The new collection includes over six hundred oral histories with African American elders in Florida telling stories of memories of slavery, resistance to segregation, anti-black racial violence, the coming of the modern civil rights movement and narratives of Black and Latinx intersectionality among many other topics.

This symposium marks the formal opening of the Joel Buchanan Archive of African American Oral History at the University of Florida to scholars, students, and researchers worldwide. Joel Buchanan (1948-2014) was a beloved civil rights activist, historian and librarian in Gainesville and at the University of Florida. Joel was an indispensable member of the community, a tireless speaker who gave countless lectures and informal talks to elementary, high school and college students about the histories of segregation, the civil rights movement, and Gainesville. Joel used history to share his dreams of a better future for all. Joel guided generations of high school, college and university students in the completion of their class projects and dissertations. The naming of this collection is meant to pay homage to Joel Buchanan’s vision of history and social justice.

The symposium will feature panels, films, exhibits, performances, and lectures on many different facets of Black History. The event will bring together scholars, educators, and community organizers to discuss how to infuse African American history in K-12, higher education and social justice organizing on a national level.  Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the role of African American history in classrooms, communities, and civic engagement.

The event will also feature book-signings of noted authors.

The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida announces:
Contact: Tamarra Jenkins, (352-392-7168).

Organized by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

Sponsored by the University of Florida Office of the Provost, African American Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, the College of Medicine, Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations, Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment), Bob Graham Center for Public Service, Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research, The Richard J. Milbauer Program in Southern History, Department of History, The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.


Preliminary Symposium Schedule (subject to change)



Thursday, March 21, 2019




8:00 to 9:00am:                                     REGISTRATION WITH COFFEE

Community Presenters / Posters / Tabling


9:00 to 10:00am:


President Fuchs, University of Florida

Provost Joe Glover, University of Florida

Sharon Austin, Director UF African American Studies

Paul Ortiz, Director, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program


10:00 am:             Conducting the Oral Histories: Challenges, Impacts, Legacies

Featuring SPOHP/UF Alumni: Randi Gill-Sadler, Lafayette College,

Justin Hosbey, Emory University, Justin Dunnavant, UC-Santa Cruz/Vanderbilt

Raja Rahim, University of Florida

Moderated by Patricia Hilliard-Nunn, University of Florida


11:15am:                                                                COFFEE BREAK

                                                                              Book Signings

(Participants’ books will be for sale throughout the event’s proceedings)

11:45am:  The Difference History Makes: Veterans, Classrooms, Community, Museum & Virtually

John Nelson, Jefferson County Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sherry Dupree, Director, UNESCO-Transatlantic Slave Trade, Gayle Phillips, Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, St. Augustine, Curtis Michelson, Democracy Forum, Vivian Filer, Cotton Club Museum, Inc.

Moderated by Paul Ortiz, University of Florida

12:45pm:                                                              LUNCH BREAK


2:30pm:                                                  “Gator Tales” Film Screening

Gator Tales is an original play devised and directed by UF Arts Professor Kevin Marshall

in conjunction with SPOHP. Focusing on the experiences of the first generations of

African American students at UF, the play was nominated for the 2015 Freedom of

Expression Award by Amnesty International at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.


3:30pm:             Comments by: UF Alumni Narrators’ Panel: Evelyn Mickle, Albert White, Bernard Hicks




6:00pm:                                                          Keynote Address:

Curtis Austin, Department of History, University of Oregon

Author of: Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party                                        

               Comments by: Derrick White, Department of History, Dartmouth University


7:00 to 9:00PM:                                              Dinner Reception


Friday, March 22, 2019


                          LOCATION: GEORGE A. SMATHERS LIBRARY EAST, ROOM 100

8:30am:                                                            MORNING WELCOME WITH COFFEE

Opening Remarks: Dean David Richardson, University of Florida

9:00am:                                                               Remembering Joel Buchanan:

Evelyn Foxx, Alachua County NAACP, Rodney Long, Alachua County Commissioner Emeritus, Bernie Machen, UF President Emeritus, Judith Russell, Smathers Libraries Dean, Steve Noll, Department of History, Marna Weston, Oak Hall School,  Faye Williams, M.A.M.A.’s Club, Family & community members


10: 15am:                                  Unveiling the Joel Buchanan Archive of African American Oral History

Judith Russell, Stephanie Birch, Laurie Taylor, George Smathers Libraries


11:00am:                                                      COFFEE BREAK with Light Refreshments

Book signings

11:30am:                      History, Intersectionality and Liberation in the Age of Black Lives Matter

Tanya Saunders, University of Florida

Nailah Summers, Dream Defenders

Max Krochmal, Texas Christian University

Moderated by: Lauren Pearlman, University of Florida




                An Afternoon of Student Activism, Ethnic Studies, and Community Building


2:30pm:         “The Making of the Institute of Black Culture at the University of Florida,”

Presented by Student Filmmakers

Comments by: Tameka Bradley Hobbs, Valdosta State University



Book Signings

4:30pm:              “The Making of the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, “La Casita” at UF”

Presented by Student Filmmakers

Comments by: Nicholas Vargas, University of Florida

Saturday, March 23, 2019


                   LOCATION: A. Quinn Jones Center Auditorium

                               1013 NW. 7th Avenue, Gainesville, Florida


                                            Active Commemorations: Putting Historical Memory to Work

9:00am:                                                                 MORNING WELCOME WITH COFFEE


9:30am:            Ocoee, Florida: One Hundred Years of Accountability and Reconciliation in the Making,

Kathleen Crown, Nichole Dawkins, Mayor Rusty Johnson, William E. Maxwell


Moderated by: Ed Gonzalez-Tennant, University of Central Florida


11:00:                                                                                     COFFEE BREAK

Book Signings



11:30am:          “Legacies of Lincoln High School”

Presentation by Albert White, Lincoln High School Alumnus

Moderated by: Tina Certain, Alachua County School Board Member



                                                                                               LUNCH BREAK


1:30pm:  Documentary Film-in progress:

“Legacies of Lynching: The Odyssey of Oscar Mack in Florida and Beyond,”

Julian Chambliss, Department of History, Michigan State University

                          Comments by: James Brown, Grandson of Oscar Mack & Audience



                                SYMPOSIUM CLOSING REMARKS:


Larry Rivers, Distinguished Professor of History, Florida A & M University


Funded by the University of Florida Office of the Provost, African American Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, the College of Medicine, Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations, Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment), the Harn Museum of Art, and the College of Public Health and Health Professions.