History Talk: Black Self-emancipators of Florida
November 30, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Art & History Museums – Maitland
This Fall’s Maitland History Museum exhibition, Fumecheliga: A History of the First Peoples of Florida, was co-curated by Exhibitions Manager Katie Benson and Dr. Neil Vaz. Dr. Vaz is a professor of Humanities/History at Seminole State College and specializes in the history of Maroon communities and the African Diaspora. This talk by Dr. Vaz is in conjunction with the exhibition. The History Museum and Art Center gallery will be open 5:30-8:00pm on this day, as part of our monthly Last Wednesdays.
About the speaker:
Neil Vaz was born on November 3, 1983, in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jamaican father and Grenadian mother. He is the third child of four boys. His family moved to Casselberry, Florida, just shy of his second birthday. Neil and his brothers, attended Seminole County Public Schools, including Casselberry Elementary, South Seminole Middle, and Lyman High School. For College Neil attended Seminole Community College, between 2002 and 2005, where he met great professors such as Dr. Stephen Caldwell Wright, Trent Tomengo, and Raphael Jackson. All three of these professors in college, who were Neil’s first experiences with African American males instructing him in academia, inspired him to take his schooling seriously and pursue a degree in the area of social sciences focusing on the history of his ancestors.
After graduating from Seminole in 2005, Neil attended Florida State University. He majored in political science and minored in history. His passion for history continued to increase, and after graduating with a bachelor’s in 2007, and working as a substitute teacher and a JV boy’s basketball coach at his former high school between 2008 and 2009, Neil’s passion for teaching also developed.
In 2009, Neil was accepted to Howard University’s Master’s program in history, in Washington, D.C., where he majored in African History. After graduating in 2011, he stayed at Howard for the Doctoral program in African diaspora history, focusing on eighteenth century African resistance to enslavement in the Caribbean. In 2016, Neil defended his dissertation entitled Dominica’s Neg Mawon: Maroonage, Diaspora, and Transatlantic Networks, 1763-1814. After graduating, Neil moved back to Florida to raise his children and secured a job at his alma mater, Seminole State College. Neil’s passion is to continue to uncover and tell the stories of those communities of African descent throughout the diaspora that fought for their freedom from slavery in spite of all the odds stacked against them, many of which are still with us today.