Year of the River: Voices of the River

BY SHANNON BLANKINSHIP, Outreach Director for St. Johns Riverkeeper

Missing Event Data

The Year of the River is an initiative by Cultural Fusion Jax bringing together more than 50 institutions to raise awareness of the St. Johns River as the “cultural current” of our city and an important driver for economic development, recreation, tourism and quality of life throughout Northeast Florida. @CulturalFusionJax #yotr

Staying true to the purpose of Cultural Fusion, Voices of the River is a first of its kind collaboration project. Program staff from the Museum of Science and History (MOSH), the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Ritz Theatre and Museum, WJCT News, Theatre Jacksonville, and St. Johns Riverkeeper combined forces to host this unique event. Voices of the River is an event that literally transports passengers via boat and bus through spaces and time, combining theatre performances and live broadcast.

Multiple Museums

Voices of the River aims to put a spotlight on the important role the river has played in our history and continues to play today in our lives. Passengers begin and end their journey at the Ritz Theatre and Museum, where passengers will tour the Lift Ev’ry Voice permanent exhibit for an experience that calls to mind the significant contributions and fascinating history of African-Americans in Northeast Florida. Replicated scenes of everyday life mix with photographs and artifacts to bring forth the essence of a past filled with work and worship, family and community, hardship and perseverance, through music and photography. At MOSH, walk through the Currents of Time exhibition for a better understanding of life when the Timucua inhabited this area. On display at the Cummer Museum, see Whitfield Lovell: Deep River and Reflections: Artful Perspectives on the St. Johns River. Tour the historic gardens before heading back to the Ritz Theatre and Museum for lunch via bus.

Bringing History to Life through Theatre: Timucuan Indians, Anna Kingsley, James Weldon Johnson

Theatre Jacksonville actors are bringing history to life through interactive performances which walk passengers through Jacksonville’s history. Learn from the Timucua Native Americans about life on the river. Anna Kingsley will be on hand to talk about plantation life, and her unique circumstances here in Florida. Jacksonville’s James Weldon Johnson, a famous author, diplomat, and civil rights activist, will discuss our city and the role the river played in the early twentieth century.

Making History Interactive

For an extra treat, passengers will connect directly with the St. Johns River as they are transported from one museum to the next with the St. Johns Riverkeeper, Lisa Rinaman, for a modern-day look at our relationship with the river. WJCT News will share radio stories about the river throughout the day with a special sneak peak into the event itself via a live broadcast. The event runs from 8:30am to 1pm with lunch and refreshments provided. Registration is $70, with very limited tickets. For further information or to make your required reservation, visit the or call (904) 899-6038.

About Shannon Blankinship

Shannon Blankinship is the Outreach Director for St. Johns Riverkeeper and contributes regularly via the “On The River” column building awareness for the many issues that impact the St. Johns River. Shannon received her B.S. from Purdue University in Natural Resources Economics and Policy and her J.D. from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville. She is currently an elected official in Duval County serving on the Soil and Water Conservation District. She is a board member for the local nonprofit The Girls Gone Green and regularly contributes articles affecting animals and health. She is a Springfield resident and works to promote all things great in the urban core neighborhoods.