WISE program explores Florida, a state history built on slavery

By Christina Lavris
In Motion Staff Writer

On Feb. 21, the Daytona State College/University of Central Florida Hall Theatre filled with plenty of faces, each with its own unique history and stories to tell. These senior citizens, however, were not gathered to share their own history, but rather to learn a little more about Florida’s — “A State History Built on Slavery.”

Dr. Nancy Duke presents a seminar on Florida's history of slavery during the WISE program.
Dr. Nancy Duke presents a seminar on Florida’s history of slavery during the WISE program.

During the 90-minute program, Daytona State Associate Professor of History Dr. Nancy Duke took to the stage to talk about slavery and how early African-Americans helped shape the history of the state, starting with the arrival of the Spanish in 1513 and how slaves worked alongside the Spanish to help build early settlements.

“African-American history is such a discovery, such a treasure that a lot of people, family, don’t really get the time to know, but when you look at African-American history, these are the people who built this country,” said Dr. Duke.

Duke spoke about notable Africans in early Spanish Floridian history, such as Juan Garrido, Pedro Alonso Niño and Captain Francisco Menéndez. She explained the differences between Spanish task systems of slavery and the more well-known American style gang system of slavery. She also touched on information about the plantations in the area, both standing and in ruin.

Director of Alumni Engagement at Daytona State, Suzette Cameron said, “The WISE (Wisdom in Senior Education) Program began approximately seven years ago as a way for the College to connect with our seniors throughout the community. The WISE Program provides educational seminars on a weekly basis during the Spring and Fall Semesters. The seminars run for 11 consecutive weeks for hour-and-a-half sessions.”

Upcoming WISE events for March include “Introduction to Genealogy” on March 7, “DSC: State of the College 2017” on the March 21 and drones will be the topic March 28. These events will take place at the DSC/UCF Hall Theater, Bldg. 150, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Programs are only open for those 50 and older. Yearly memberships are $25 for individuals or $45 per couple.  For information, please contact Suzette Cameron at 386-506-4506 or Suzette.Cameron@DaytonaState.edu.