by Steven Dickens
Randall Broxton has a lifelong passion for history, for the voices of those long gone, and he loves to share his knowledge with his students at Pensacola Junior College and the public.
After brief stints as a junior high and high school educator, Broxton has been teaching at PJC for 45 years. His passion for history and teaching comes from his love of sharing knowledge, he said, which began at an early age.
When Broxton was growing up, his grandfather was good friends with T.T. Wentworth, a renowned collector of historic and unusual objects which are now featured in a museum in downtown Pensacola. Wentworth collected all kinds of things during his life and Broxton loved how history could be learned from the items Wentworth collected. As a result, the PJC professor himself has been a collector of historical items such as family pictures, family heirlooms and other personal items.
Perhaps the most interesting historical items are letters written by ordinary people, used by Broxton to outline Pensacola’s history in talks to community groups. History is a tapestry and letters are the threads, he said, adding that letters show more about the way people in the past actually felt.
His love of history and teaching also prompted Broxton to create the Jared Sparks Historical Society, a campus organization for Pensacola Junior College students designed to share history with the public.
Said Josh Encinias, president of the society: “Mr. Broxton is my mentor, showing me how to collect history though letters people write.”
Student society members volunteer to maintain a number of historical areas around town. They work at St. John’s and St. Michael’s cemeteries in downtown Pensacola, assist the Pensacola Historical Society and lead tours of the T.T. Wentworth Museum.
The group also hosts historical walks around the downtown area almost year round in which the city’s past is recounted. The most recent walk was Nov. 8 and featured St. John’s Cemetery and North G and Belmont streets.
The next walk will be March 21, featuring the architecture of North Hill.