CRESTVIEW — Mary Swisher knows more about North Okaloosa history after a weekend visit to the Carver-Hill museum.
Swisher, a Fort Walton Beach resident and preschool teacher working toward her bachelor’s degree in teacher education, was one of several educators from Northwest Florida State College who visited the museum on Saturday.
They listened to historical perspectives from several guest speakers, including longtime Crestview resident Velma Conyers, 101, who shared her experiences working at the Carver-Hill School, a K-12 institution for black residents from 1954-1969.
They also heard from DeFuniak Springs resident and pastor Tyrone Livingston Broadus, "the first black (honor guard) and one of the original 13 Kennedy Honor Guards,” the Washington D.C. native said.
The Rev. Dwight Baggett from Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church and 1982 Crestview High School graduate Terry Taylor, who played professional baseball for the Seattle Mariners, also were present.
Taylor’s sister, Toni — who teaches the Okaloosa Head Start program in Crestview, and was one of the educators in the bachelor’s program — helped organize the event.
Listening to the guest speakers was an “eye opening” experience for her and fellow attendees.
“(The guest speakers) made it through hard times and nothing stopped them from where they are today,” she said. “Time has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”
As for Swisher, the trip introduced her to the Carver-Hill museum.
“I didn’t even know this was here,” she said. “Having this opportunity ... was amazing.”
The educators have visited museums in DeFuniak Springs and Valparaiso. But meeting those who helped shape the area’s cultural history is better than reading about it, NWFSC instructor Kenya Wolff said.
“You can’t really get into history until you have met people that have lived it.” she said.