Dr. J. Michael Francis

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, Florida

It has been said that if you want to know the whole story, you have to go back to the beginning.

Dr. J. Michael Francis reminds us that our nation’s true beginnings are not only rooted upstream from the Chesapeake Bay at Jamestown. To know the whole story, we must begin much earlier and 655 miles south. “In 1607, when a small band of Englishmen founded Jamestown, St. Augustine had already existed for 42 years,” writes Dr. Francis.

There is no better expert to tell us the whole story in celebration of “¡Viva España!” than Dr. J. Michael Francis.

On Sunday, December 6th at 1:00 P.M., Dr. Francis will do just that with his talk entitled, “Before Jamestown: Europeans, Africans and Indians in Spanish Florida.”

Dr. J Michael FrancisHough Family Endowed Chair at the University of South Florida St Petersburg, Dr. Francis is considered the leading expert on the history of the Spanish colonial experience. According to USF St. Petersburg Regional Chancellor Margaret Sullivan, “Dr. Francis represents the vanguard of scholars who are reinterpreting the meaning of 1513” and the resulting influences of Spain in America.

With a passion for the rich, unfortunately often neglected, early history of Florida, Dr. Francis immerses his students, audiences, and readers into what he calls “a fascinating blend of triumph and tragedy” which is the story of America’s first city, St. Augustine. This ancient city’s narrative is rich and brings with it tales of appointments by kings, battles with rivaling countries, missions to save souls, and mythic fountains of youth.

Shortly after Dr. Francis’s latest book was published, St. Augustine: America’s First City, a Story of Unbroken History & Enduring Spirit, Spain’s Foreign Ministry commissioned a Spanish translation, which was given to King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain during their visit to Florida. So, upon St. Augustine’s 450th Anniversary Celebration, Spain’s royalty once again had its eye on the shores of the Matanzas River and in its hands Dr. Francis’s book.

King and Queen of Spain visiting St. Augustine in September, 2015.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain visiting St. Augustine in September, 2015.

One of Dr. Francis’s specialties is Spanish paleography, the study of ancient, hand-written texts. What an appropriate talent for the expert on the colonial tale Spain wrote here in Florida about a cultural heritage reflected all around us… and a part of our whole story.

Lecture tickets are $30 and include show admission. Please visit www.wchwomensboard.com to reserve your tickets.

Mollie Peterson- HOSTandSERVEMollie Peterson lives in Jacksonville with her husband Matthew. She is a member of the Art and Antiques Show Public Relations and Vice Chair of the Blog Committee. Mollie is a teacher at James Weldon Johnson College Prep and a 2015 Gladys Prior Award Winner for Career Teaching Excellence. She is the creator of the blog HOSTandSERVE and is a grateful stroke survivor.



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