COMPILED BY DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
“Lies Uncovered: The Truth About the Arthur G. Dozier Reform School for Boys will make its debut at the F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival on Saturday at the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center in Daytona Beach.
Duane C. Fernandez Sr. wrote the book, which chronicles the horrors that took place at the reform school in Marianna, Florida.
Boys sent to the school were beaten, abused, raped, tortured and murdered. One of those victims who died at the school was Billy Jackson of Daytona Beach.
Fernandez is the lead photojournalist for the Daytona Times and the statewide newspaper, the Florida Courier. He also is the owner and manager of the Deep Focus News blog.
Fernandez, also a filmmaker, will be featured along with other filmmakers and authors at the ninth annual F.R.E.S.H. Book & Film Festival, which takes place in Daytona Beach Jan. 10-12.
The Daytona Beach resident has covered a wide range of media events, including the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford; Muhammad Ali’s funeral in Louisville, Kentucky; the Emanuel A.M.E. Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina; Ku Klux Klan rally in Columbia, South Carolina; as well as President Barack Obama’s campaign stop in Florida for Hillary Clinton for president.
“Lies Uncovered: “The Truth About the Arthur G. Dozier Reform School for Boys” is his first book. A documentary about the reform school was released in 2018.
Fernandez became interested in the story about the Arthur G. Dozier Reform School for Boys after covering the funeral of Daytona Beach native Billy Jackson, who was sent to the Dozier Reform School in 1952 for skipping two days of school. The boy was beaten to death while there.
The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys operated from 1900 to 2011.
“I like history. There is a lot of history in Florida and the South. Being a photojournalist and learning about the Billy Jackson story and him being from Daytona sparked my interest. I heard about the school. I saw it on TV. I wanted to go there. I thought the school would be a great story to tell in a documentary,” Fernandez said in a previous story.
“My hope is that people will see that things didn’t change. The film shows things that were occurring in the ‘40s and ‘50s, then things were still going in 2006. They were still finding ways to shuffle these boys into the school. They found other ways to continue. Mistreatment of young Black males is still occurring – just look at the school to prison pipeline,” he noted.
Fernandez’s background includes the founding of Team Hardnotts University Youth Awareness Program/ Teaching Youth to Shoot with Cameras Not Guns. He is also the owner and manager of Hardnotts Photography LLC located in Daytona Beach.
He has received many awards and recognition as a photojournalist, including being named one of three finalists in the Florida Press Association for a photo collage published in 2016 titled “Capturing Harmony to Hate,’’ which showed visitors to Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston after the shooting and a Ku Klux Klan rally held the same weekend.
Honored by Blacks
In addition, his photographs published in the Florida Courier have placed second as a finalist in the National Association of Black Journalists’ Salute to Excellence Awards in 2016 and in the top three in 2019.
In November 2019, he received a first-place award from the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for his photograph of an August 2018 rally in Clearwater featuring civil rights activists demanding justice after the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton.
Fernandez is a graduate of Daytona State College and holds degrees in Photographic Studies and Television Production. He also has a degree in Culinary Arts from Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut.
About the festival
On Friday, a meet and greet for authors and filmmakers participating in the F.R.E.S.H. Film & Book Festival will be held at the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center, 925 George W. Engram Blvd., Daytona Beach. The event begins at 6:45 p.m.
The night will include a dinner featuring poetry and a performance by Daytona Beach R&B and jazz artist Amy Alysia; STAR 94.5 FM radio personality JoJo O’Neal is the emcee.
Tickets for the Jan. 10 event at $30 and can be purchased at www.freshbookfestivals.net.
The festival concludes on Saturday, Jan. 11 with the book festival at the Midtown center beginning at 9:45 a.m. O’Neal will also host this event.
This year’s event features authors from Daytona, DeLand, Orlando, Jacksonville, South Florida, New York, Maryland, Texas, Las Vegas and Louisiana.
Author Donna GrayBanks is the founder and director of the festival.
Along with Fernandez, other authors will include Booker T. Mattison, Victor McGlothin, Angie Ransome Jones, Troy D. Johnson, Keith Childs, Andre Polite, Derek Triplett and Keith Kareem Williams.
Others scheduled to participate are Rekia Beverly, Mike Pyle, James Daniels, Shontell Woods, Carolyn Sanders James, Sheri Shields, Donald Simpson, Jhordynn Giselle, Elizabeth Savage, Tamiya Davis, Sandy Anderson, Booker T. Williams, Melinda Falgoust, Angie Bee & Angie Bee Productions, Bartee Productions, L.D. Robinson (Ladero Press), Dr. Delicia Haynes, Barbara J. Henderson and James Brown Photography.
The day will include workshops at the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center. At these workshops, authors will be detailing their works as well as giving valuable information to attendees on writing and publishing their projects.
Workshops are no more than an hour, beginning at 10:15 a.m. The last is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Tickets are $5 for this event. Seniors, students and teachers with ID are admitted into the book festival for free.
“We’re looking forward for people to come out and enjoy these events. We have authors, poets, musicians, filmmakers and more coming to share their talents. They can’t wait to meet people and share their talent and experiences. Also, come and show the local authors love for their hard work and craft,” Gray-Banks said.
The City of Daytona Beach is the major sponsor for the festival.
For more information, visit freshbookfestivals.net.