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Meet the Committee

In his memo to the City Commission recommending the seven members of the Confederate Memorial Contextualization Advisory Committee, City Manager John Regan wrote: “There were 40 applications submitted by the December 31, 2017 deadline.  Overall, the applicants were of exceptionally high caliber and gave us an opportunity to select a diverse group of individuals committed to the community engagement process to tell a deeper, more inclusive story of the civil war period.  Community dialogue is the foundation to address racism, hatred and inequalities that still exist in our society.”

Below are the recommended members of the committee, which will be considered by the City Commission at its January 22 meeting, with brief biographical sketches which were also included in the City Manager’s memo.

Name Profile
 J. Michael Butler, Ph.D. Professor of History, Flagler College
 Sharyn Wilson Smith Coley

Retired Educator for The St. Johns County School Board

 Regina Gayle Phillips  Director, Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center
 Thomas Graham, Ph.D.  Professor of History Emeritus, Flagler College
 Susan Parker, PH.D.  Historian and historic research consultant
 Elizabeth Dove  Adjunct History Faculty, Flagler College
 Thomas Jackson  Recreation Supervisor, St. Johns County

Committee Member Background

J. Michael Butler, Ph.D.- Dr. Butler is a history professor with an emphasis on the civil rights movement and southern history.   He has published many works in the field.  He has experience in Pensacola and at the University of Mississippi working on contextualization topics to confront the meaning and importance of confederate imagery in the public sphere.  His work is contemporaneous to the topic at hand and his publications are directly on point.  We are fortunate to have Dr. Butler volunteer his academic and practical expertise to the committee.

Sharyn Wilson Smith Coley: Ms. Coley is a highly respected retired educator from the St. Johns County School system (36 years) and a Supervisor in the St. Johns Recreation Department for 21 years.  She is a lifelong resident of Lincolnville.   Her knowledge in education communications, cross generational community respect, and wisdom will help convey the committee’s work to the audience.

Regina Gayle Phillips: Ms. Phillips is the Director of the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center.  The work of the committee will most likely create a much broader understanding of the public history surrounding the civil war period.  The museum is in a position to capture, preserve and tell a deeper story than what results on the Plaza.   She and her husband endured much racism and hate throughout their lives and built successful careers.  Her first-hand experience in the underlying issues that face society and her commitment to public history at the museum make her an excellent committee member.

Thomas Graham, Ph.D.: Dr. Graham is the foremost historian and expert on the civil war period and history during the rise of the white supremacy movement.  He has published extensively.  Dr. Graham will be able to direct the research effort and “cut to the chase”.  Dr. Graham was the most immediate and obvious choice for recommendation.

Susan Parker, Ph.D.: Dr. Parker is one of the foremost experts in all of St. Augustine History.  Her research dates to the 1500s to contemporary times.  She has served in many capacities including the Director of the St. Augustine Historic Society.  Dr. Parker is also a lifelong resident of St. Augustine and has extensive teaching experience throughout her career.  The committee needs members that will put in the hard work of research and volunteer hours.  Dr. Parker has a demonstrated track record of this type of dedication.  She understands that by working on the confederate memorial contextualization committee, we are continuing the work on unresolved social issues.  Dr. Parker would round out the academic profile of the committee members.

Elizabeth Dove: Ms. Dove is a history faculty member at Flagler College.  She is a relatively new faculty member and relocated from the Northeast United States.  She holds a Master of Arts in American History and a Masters certification in Museum Studies with more than 35 years’ experience working and leading museums (mostly military) from coast to coast.  She retired from the federal government in September 2016 as the Director of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, an accredited museum.  She also was the Director of the Presidio Museum in San Francisco and the Director of the Fort Polk Military Museum in Louisiana.  Her talent aligned to the Lincolnville Museum will be exciting to watch.

Thomas Jackson: Mr. Jackson is a Recreation Supervisor for St. Johns County and has been a lifelong resident and volunteer public servant. He holds a Masters of Public Administration.  His experience and resume in telling the African American History and experience is paramount to none.  He has demonstrated success in attaining public history goals.  A few examples include: founding member of the Fort Mose Historical Society, Chairman of the “Journey-450 Years of the African American Experience” exhibit, Chairman of the St. Benedict the Moore Restoration Committee, member of the City Historic Preservation Advisory Board, Chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee and serves as an advisor to the Spuds-Elkton-Armstrong Gullageechee Community.  When Mr. Jackson is involved in a project, he commands the respect of the community.