Free Florida Humanities Series unveiled by The Emerson Center


Details are coming together for the launch of The Florida Humanities Series at Vero Beach’s Emerson Center on Thursday, October 12.

This series includes six free programs; showcasing lectures and performances all relating to Florida history, culture, and people. Since the series’ inception in 2007, these programs have become a favorite on the Treasure Coast’s entertainment scene. All performances begin at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday evenings.

Thanks to the generous support from Marine Bank and Trust and a grant from the Florida Humanities Council, these lectures and concerts remain free of charge.

The 2017-18 season kicks off with a nostalgic and revealing look at the 70-year history of the Dodgers baseball team’s relationship with Vero Beach. On October 12, Craig Callan, Vice President of Historic Dodgertown, will recall how local businessman Bud Holman and other neighbors overcame obstacles to launch a Spring Training home for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Today, this facility has evolved into Florida’s premier sports and conference center hosting sporting events throughout the year. 

Jay Barnes

On November 9, with three weeks remaining in the official 2017 hurricane season, author Jay Barnes will present a retrospective on Florida’s greatest hurricanes, focusing on the major disasters of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.  Highlighting the program will be the display of nearly 100 photographs taken during and in the aftermath of these storms as well as a review of the lessons learned to prepare us for the next great storm.

For the holidays on December 14, The Emerson Center’s stage will host the Fort Pierce Jazz and Blues Society. These acclaimed musicians, distinguished artists who have played with some of the major jazz and blues groups around the world, will help listeners rock their way into Christmas with a swinging performance of seasonal favorites designed to keep toes tapping until Santa clears the scene. Guests are urged to stay after this performance for complimentary holiday refreshments.

In cooperation with the Treasure Coast History Festival, Sean Sexton will appear on January 11. Bringing up-close insights into his legendary Sexton family, Sean promises an entertaining exploration of the lives of his father, Waldo Sexton, and other key family members. This program will explain some of the unique ways the name “Sexton” became synonymous with “Vero Beach.” 

On February 1, historical actor Ersula Knox-Odom will appear in character as Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune in a performance drawn from that pivotal year of 1954, when “separate but equal” segregated schools were outlawed by the Supreme Court.  Dr. Bethune’s extraordinary contributions to democracy will be highlighted. Dr. Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman University, was a high-level official in the New Deal government. Following the performance, a Q&A session with the presenter in character will be held.

Finally, on March 29, long-time radio journalist Janie Gould will explore Florida’s memories of U-boat attacks, German POW’s, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis in a program entitled “Global Events That Touched Florida: Great Depression Through Cold War.” Using excerpts from her popular “Floridays” radio program, Gould will stage a captivating program that touches people and places vital to the local community today.  Gould is a writer, lecturer, and retired public radio journalist who lives in Vero Beach. 

This Florida Humanities Series is sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council ( with funds from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs.  Additional support from Marine Bank and Trust ensures that these important programs remain open to the public and free of charge. 

Seating is offered on a first-come-first-served basis for all Humanities programs.  The Emerson Center is handicap accessible and is conveniently located at 1590 27th Avenue, on the SE corner of 16th Street and 27th Avenue in Vero Beach. For more information, contact the Emerson Center Box Office at 772-778-5249 or visit the website at

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