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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Civic Media Center to celebrate its 24th anniversary

A local activist organization and alternative library will celebrate 24 years of operation Friday.

The Civic Media Center will celebrate its 24th anniversary at the Matheson History Museum, located at 513 E. University Ave. The event, held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., will include a keynote speaker, dinner, raffle and a silent auction, according to the center’s Facebook page.  Tickets cost $25 to $50 and are available on the Civic Media Center’s website and can be purchased at the door the day of the event.

James Schmidt, the interim coordinator for the CMC, said the center works on topics like freedom of speech and civil rights that affect Gainesville’s population. Schmidt started working for the center shortly after it opened, he said.

“The issues that the groups who use the CMC are working on affect everyone in one way or another,” he said. “We are likely to be impacted in one way or another. It’s crucial that people get involved.”  

The CMC originally opened in a small room on West University Avenue. It moved to its current location, 433 S. Main St., in 2009.

The center hosts movie screenings, Thursday poetry slams and space for local organizations to rent.

“As a society, we need spaces like the CMC to provide spaces and opportunities to network and come together to argue and debate and act in solidarity,” Schmidt said.

The center also has a 10,000-book library and an artist workshop. It’s also affiliated with Wild Iris Books, located next door.

Carol Thomas, a local activist who started her career as a white ally of the freedom fighters during the 1960s Jim Crow period, will be the keynote speaker for the anniversary fundraiser.

Schmidt said Thomas was deemed the most dangerous woman in Gainesville by pro-segregation reactionaries.

“She’ll be talking about her long life as an activist and her experience as a movement elder,” he said.

Nancy Coryell, a volunteer who works with the collections in the CMC library, said over the five years she’s been in the organization, it has stuck to its basic mission.

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“It’s been nice to see the community come along and be more of a destination,” she said. “Once people know about the CMC, they usually want to come back.”

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