Wednesday, October 21, 2020

7 Questions With Andy Warrener of Pioneer Museum and Village


Andy Warrener comes from a film and theatre background before branching into print journalism. He has 10 feature-length screenplays to his credit, having sold one in 2006, won numerous awards for others and in 2018, his co-written story 'The Black String' was made into a feature film, premiering at the Austin Film Festival and screening in 5 countries before being distributed by Lionsgate. He has and still works in journalism as a photographer and writer but is now the historical research specialist and event coordinator at the Pioneer Museum & Village in Dade City, Florida )

1. How and/or when did you get you hooked on history?

I have been a Civil War buff since I was in high school. I was captivated at the nature of that type of combat and what it must have took for men to walk into a cannon's mouth.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

As I progressed from a "buff" to an historian, I started genealogy research and found that I had ancestors that served in the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry and the 88th Pennsylvania Infantry. As you might imagine, that electrified my already burning interest. From there, I began to expand my research into Florida-specific history, how colorful and dynamic it is. I devour history books, perform in and organize living history events across a range of time periods. I have accepted it as a personal mission to shine a light into the darkness, into the lesser known and seldom told aspects of Florida and Native American history.

3. How is/How was history a part of your professional life/career?

I worked as a journalist for 10 years, oftentimes covering stories that had a historical element to them. Now I work in a museum where I develop displays and historical context for artifacts we have here. It's truly a dream job.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

It is exceedingly difficult to shape the future or understand the present without a details and broad understanding of history.

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

For many years, it was the American Civil War but my passion now leans toward the string of history from the War of 1812 - to the Creek War - to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Seminole Wars. I am also very interested in pre-Columbian history in Florida.

6. What is the mission of the Pioneer Florida Museum?

To teach Florida history from an interactive approach using living history, interpretive tours, interactive displays and public events.

7.         Why is the Pioneer Florida Museum important ?

It is located in an area of the state just teeming with history. We cover a time period unique among other museums and parks. We also salvage historical buildings. We now have 10 buildings from 1860 to 1940 that we have not just preserved but dressed and detailed as they would have been in their time.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

7 Questions with Ersula Odom


Ersula K. Odom is CEO of Sula Too LLC, a legacy writer, the author and co-author of several books including African Americans of Tampa and her poetic memoir – At Sula’s Feet. She is a motivational speaker, creates legacy walls, and portrays Mary McLeod Bethune as a one-person show. As founder of Sula Too, LLC she has published books for clients from Georgia to California. She was raised in Georgia, graduated from Eckerd College and is deeply rooted in Tampa with business, family, and friends. 

Recent commendations: Signed copy of Congressional Record of Dr. Bethune’s decision to place her stature in Statuary Hall in DC presented to her by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.  Performance written about in the Wall Street Journal. She received separate commendations from Tampa City Council Commendation for her roles as co-founder of Fortune Friends and as member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on the Economic Impact of Cultural Arts. 

As a motivational speaker, Ms. Odom has the uncommon ability to relate to multi-generational and multi-cultural audiences by sharing experiences from such areas as rural living, college life, Fortune 500 corporate management, spirituality, being a mother, entrepreneurship, sales, and genealogy to publishing books. 

Today, the title of her performance is “Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Comes to Life.” Dr Bethune “comes to life” during the 1950’s to share  her thoughts regarding  her life’s story.   She will then answer questions. After Dr. Bethune leaves the stage, Ersula will answer questions regarding her research and personal journey. . She also leads black history walking tours of Tampa for the Tampa Bay History Center.

1. How and/or when did you get you hooked on history?

My earliest memory is crawling under my grandmother’s bed and retrieving a box full of wonder. A “Have a Tampa” cigar box full of old photos, letters, stamps and a lot of my grandmother’s sister’s hair. I have been hooked on such things since that moment.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

I am my family’s historian. The go to person for the family tree and keeper of the memories

I authored my first book  At Sula’s Feet which is rooted in those memories. Life lessons learned at my grandmother’s feet. I remembered and wrote about the wit and wisdom that made my childhood sweet.

And I formed a publishing company to help others tell their stories. 

3. How is/How was history a part of your professional life/career?

Publishing company focus

I formed a publishing company to help others tell their stories. Everyone has at least one story that circle around their head and exits far too many times to the same people. Sula Too Publishing helps these people release the stories to the universe in search of those who may need them.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

History shortens the time and path to informed decisions.

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

Post slavery through 1950s because I know these people. They were my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They were bits of me.

6. How did you start telling the African -American story of Tampa and Florida?

I was a reporter and then editor for The Weekly Challenger News which led to my writing, photographing and collecting local stories. 

I was approached by Arcadia Publishing to write a book. Accepting this opportunity set me on the joyous journey of wandering through 15,000 archived photos and going house to house in searching to the names of the faces I held in my hands.

7. Why is telling local African-American history so important ?

It is now so timely. The students are ready. Lessons can be learned that will help make sense of the world we live in.

History is the key to understanding humanity, life situations and people.

History aids in “predicting the future”