Imani Jackson Authors Guest Column on Florida Forever Funding for Fish Island
Imani Jackson, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information legal fellow, is the author of “Fish Island Victory Reflects Interest Convergence” published in the St. Augustine Record on Aug. 3.
Jackson focuses on recently approved Florida Forever preservation funding for Fish Island, an undeveloped waterfront property on Anastasia Island where the El Vergel plantation once operated. A luxury home development planned for the area may have buried the human remains, graves and other artifacts of enslaved African people who lived, labored and died on the island. Jackson calls the funding a victory to preserve the cultural heritage and environmental preservation in St. Augustine.
“The state’s stake in Fish Island will likely spur the sort of local, U.S. and global recognition recently afforded its neighbor Fort Mose,” said Jackson. “Fish Island funding and preservation will likely facilitate the teaching of pluralistic histories, compel deeper dives into the site’s citrus traditions (particularly given Florida’s estimated $8.6 billion value in the industry) and inspire experts to help reconnect African American people with obscured — though never erased — ancestors who may have worked the citrus plantation.”
She adds, “Funding and centering Fish Island is also timely given the Southern Poverty Law Center’s determination the U.S. education ecosystem produces many students with inadequate knowledge of U.S. slavery.”