The Groundwork Jacksonville Green Team Youth Corps recently debuted “The 400 Project – Honoring the Enslaved Voices of Kingsley Plantation” at the annual Kingsley Heritage Celebration. The virtual event, held on Saturday, Feb. 20 and Saturday, Feb. 27, celebrated African heritage and honored the enslaved that lived at Kingsley Plantation located within Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (TIMU). The National Park Service and nonprofits Groundwork Jacksonville, Timucuan Parks Foundation (TPF), and Jacksonville Arts and Music School (JAMS) worked together to develop the project as part of the Groundwork Green Team Youth Corps’ program. Watch the Green Team’s reflection video
Over the summer, the teens worked with TIMU rangers on a program to commemorate 400 years since Africans were brought to the English colonies to be enslaved. The youth worked with Jacksonville Public Library staff to learn research techniques. They also gained special insight on Kingsley’s heritage from descendant Peri Frances Betsch. The teens then utilized their creativity to tell the story of Kingsley Plantation through the voices of six individuals who were enslaved there. They wrote and recorded two simulated radio shows – one featuring mock interviews with historic African Americans who were enslaved at Kingsley Plantation and the other, a radio variety show, featuring music, poetry, and interviews. Listen to “The Morning Show” here.
During the fall and spring, the Green Team worked with young artists from JAMS to animate the radio programs. Together, they created illustrations to visualize each radio show, including commercials from fictitious sponsors. Listen to “The Convo” show here.
“This was originally going to be a live presentation at the annual Kingsley Heritage Celebration but the pandemic changed those plans,” said Shanell Davis-Bryant, program manager for Groundwork Jacksonville. “We worked together with our partners to shift the project to a virtual format, and the teens developed the idea of creating a two-part radio show and then an animatic. They combined their learning with their creativity to tell the stories of Kingsley Plantation.”
”Helping young people discover, connect with, and transform these stories enriches everyone’s understanding of the unfolding legacy of enslavement. Their perspective brings something new that we are truly excited to share at the Kingsley Heritage Celebration,” said Emily Palmer, park ranger, National Park Service.
Timucuan Parks Foundation works with their park partners, including TIMU, the city, and the state to introduce the group to Jacksonville’s “wilderness” parks, where the youth can engage in healthy outdoor recreation and service-learning projects, including kayaking, hiking, learning about Jacksonville’s natural resources and history, and assisting with watershed cleanups and other resiliency projects.
“This summer, in addition to the 400 project, TPF and our partners and volunteers hosted the teens for kayaking and swimming in Timucuan Preserve, a nature hike at Dutton Island Preserve followed by fishing and outdoor cooking, and an audio tour and shoreline cleanup at Kingsley Plantation,” said Felicia Boyd, TPF outreach and program director. “We are always excited to introduce the next generation of stewards to the rich history, natural beauty, and resiliency of Jacksonville’s parks and preserves.”
TPF secured grants that helped fund the summer program and the audio-visual project, including funding from the 400 Years of African American History Commission, the National Environmental Education Foundation, and a National Park Service Challenge Grant.