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1619 - 2019: Commemorating 400 Years of African American History

oculusWalk a Mile in My Shoes: Immersive Experiences in African American History

Throughout the year, the SJR State library will offer virtual reality experiences that transport you to an event, era, or place of significance in African American history. 

The People's House

The People's House logoThe People's House: Inside the White House with Barack and Michelle Obama

"Narrated by the President, “the People’s House” offers an intimate, 360-degree exploration of rooms in the White House residence and the West Wing, as well as a look back at some of the most significant moments that took place there over the past eight years. ...The tour takes viewers through rooms in the White House like the Old Family Dining Room, as well as places that many Americans have never seen before: the Oval Office, the Situation Room, the Rose Garden, and the Treaty Room (the President’s private office). Through it all, you’ll hear the President and First Lady’s personal reflections on historic moments that occurred in each place, whether that’s the response to the economic crisis, the raid on Osama bin Laden, or his statement on the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality the law of the land." from President Obama Narrates "The People’s House," a Virtual Reality Tour of the White House

Event Dates and Locations

Reservations are required.
November 5 in Palatka - Reserve your spot
November 5 in Orange Park - Reserve your spot
November 14 in St. Augustine - Reserve your spot
All are welcome to this free event!

Resources for Further Exploration

Books at the SJR State Library
Books may be checked out by community patrons as well as SJR State students faculty and staff. If a title is located at another campus, the book may be sent to another campus upon request.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes: Immersive Experiences in African American History

I Am A Man

Experience I Am A Man, the award winning virtual reality experience that places you in Memphis in 1968 as a witness to the Sanitation Worker’s Strike and the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, at the SJR State Library. The full experience lasts 15 minutes.

screen shot from I Am A ManIn a discussion of the power and potential of using virtual reality (VR) as a teaching tool, the creator of this VR experience, Dr. Derek Ham, said, "One of the things that I love that I was able to do with this project is to give yourself the hands of a black man. Talking with people who are who are non-black, that’s the first time they were ever able to look down and see black hands, in a way that’s respectful. We don't want people painting themselves in blackface and going out in the streets and saying I want to think about what it was like in the Civil Rights [Era]. It’s disrespectful. But VR is able to bring you in that space.

For the first time, I think for a lot of people — when they experience this experience versus looking at a documentary or film — hopefully they’ll identify on a one to one kind of relational way. “What would it be like for me to wake up in the morning? What is it like living in this country as a black person?” Looking down at their hands [and] having a new thought that kind of closes that gap between just having sympathy for someone else, and trying to think about seeing the world through their shoes, through their eyes, through their hands."

If you cannot attend an event listed below, please contact a librarian at your campus library to schedule a session. 

Palatka: Joyce Smith or Brittnee Fisher
Orange Park: Andrew Macfarlane
St. Augustine: Beryl White-Bing

Event Dates and Locations

I Am A ManJanuary 22, 2019: I Am A Man
Location: Palatka Campus Library
Time: Drop in anytime from 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

January 23, 2019: I Am A Man
Location: Orange Park Campus Library
Time: Drop in anytime from 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m..

January 24, 2019: I Am A Man
Location: St. Augustine Campus Library, room L-112 
Time: Drop in anytime from 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Resources for Further Exploration - I AM A MAN and Martin Luther King in the years leading to Memphis

Online Resources

National Civil Rights Museum to Install "I Am A Man" VR Experience - an article from the Memphis Daily News about the VR experience we are also showing.

A conversation with Derek Ham, creator of the I Am A Man virtual reality experience - from The Outline.

‘I Am a Man’: The ugly Memphis sanitation workers’ strike that led to MLK’s assassination - article from the Washington Post.

Books and eBooks at the SJR State Library
PAC = Palatka Campus Library
OPC = Orange Park Campus Library
SAC = St. Augustine Campus Library
Please note: eBooks are only accessible to currently registered SJR State students, faculty, and staff via MySJRstate.

Celebration • Education • Reflection

H.R.1242/Public Law 115-102, the 400 Years of African American History Commission Act, establishes 2019 as a year of "commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies, at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619."  The commemoration is intended “to recognize and highlight the resilience and contributions of African-Americans since 1619; to acknowledge the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States; and to educate the public about the arrival of Africans in the United States; and the contributions of African-Americans to the United States.” In recognition of this commemoration and with the Act serving as a guide, the SJR State Library has organized a year-long series of events that will provide educational experiences and resources to students and the community that celebrate the history and culture of African Americans.

Site created and maintained by Dr. Christina Will. Pages will be added and maintained throughout 2019.
Maintenance will cease at the end of 2019 but this site will remain accessible.