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Orange Co. Regional History Center salutes Women’s History Month with series of virtual programs


Second annual Women’s History Month Celebration on March 18 honors courageous journalist Mabel Norris Reese

From the Orange County Regional History Center

The Orange County Regional History Center is celebrating path-breaking women from Central Florida’s past and present with an extensive lineup of programming throughout Women’s History Month in March. The festivities include the History Center’s second annual Women’s History Month Celebration, which honors Mabel Norris Reese, a determined Central Florida journalist who fought for justice and took on the Ku Klux Klan.

Titled “Mabel Norris Reese: Fearless Voice for Truth,” the celebration will highlight Reese’s career at the helm of a weekly newspaper in Lake County, as she investigated the case of the Groveland Four and other instances of grave injustice. She withstood violent threats, including the firebombing of her home, in her work to expose her powerful opponents.

Presented in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Orange County, the online program follows last year’s inaugural Women’s History Month Breakfast, which honored Mary McLeod Bethune. In addition to honoring Reese, it underlines the role of local journalism in democracy. Featured speakers include longtime journalists Laureen Ritchie and Jackie Brockington; Pam Schwartz of the History Center; Gary McKechnie, who has led the effort to honor Reese in Mount Dora; and Orange County League Co-President Gloria Pickar.

Tickets are $25 and benefit the Historical Society of Central Florida. Registration is open here.

All events throughout March will be presented virtually via Zoom and include:

Lunch & Learn: Breaking Her Story (March 5). Cost $5; free for members.

The History Center’s research librarian, Melissa Procko, joins journalists Desiree Stennett and Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel as they discuss their careers, the most important stories they’ve investigated, and their thoughts on the value and the future of journalism.

Florida History SHEroes! Bessie Coleman (March 15). Free. Recommended for ages 5-7.

Aviation pioneer Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to earn pilot’s license, had deep connections to Orlando in the 1920s. Kids learn about the path-breaking aviator, play the Remembering Bessie Memory Challenge, and soar through a virtual escape game.

Florida History SHEroes! Marjory Stoneman Douglas (March 17). Free.

Recommended for ages 7-9. Environmental-conservation pioneer Douglas led the charge to save the Everglades. Kids will explore her fascinating life and work, play a fun round of Everglades I-Spy, and use what they learn in a virtual escape game inspired by Douglas.

Florida History SHEroes! Joanne Hardin Morgan (March 19). Free. Recommended for ages 9-11.

Engineer Joanne Hardin Morgan stands out for her trailblazing work at NASA. Kids will celebrate the ways her exemplary career shattered expectations and glass ceilings, play a space-themed scavenger hunt, and use their knowledge to blast out of a virtual escape game.

The Orange County Regional History Center, housed in a historic courthouse at 65 E. Central Blvd. in downtown Orlando, features four floors of permanent and limited-run exhibitions. The museum is a Smithsonian Institution affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The History Center is funded in part by Orange County Government through the Community & Family Services Department under Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings and the Board of County Commissioners. The Historical Society of Central Florida Inc. is supported by United Arts of Central Florida and sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. For more information, please visit www.thehistorycenter.org.

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