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July 5, 2017

Joe Verkennes, Director of Marketing and Communications
Monroe County Community College
1555 S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe, MI  48161
(734) 384-4207 (O), (419) 343-3063 (M) 


‘The Living History of President James Monroe and the Naming of Monroe County’ Set for July 13

MONROE, Mich. – In honor of the 2017 bicentennials of Monroe County and the City of Monroe, Monroe County Community College will host a symposium titled “The Living History of President James Monroe and the Naming of Monroe County” on July 13.

The symposium will take place at 6 p.m. in the Atrium of the college’s La-Z-Boy Center.  It will be free and open to the public.

The La-Z-Boy Center is located on MCCC’s Main Campus at 1555 S. Raisinville Rd. in Monroe.

Featured guests will be professional actor, archaeologist and historic preservation consultant James (Jay) G. Harrison III, who will speak in character as President James Monroe, the fifth president of the U.S. and namesake for Monroe County and the city of Monroe, and John Fierst, a historian who will offer perspectives from his research on Lewis Cass, governor of the Michigan Territory from 1813-1831, and Cass’s role in the founding and naming of Monroe County.  Edmund LaClair, MCCC assistant professor of history, will moderate the symposium.

Monroe County was founded on July 14, 1817 as one of the first steps in the organization of the Michigan Territory after the War of 1812.  The county government became centered in the square of the present courthouse.  The Town of Monroe was established nearly two months later on September 4, 1817. 

For 30 years, Harrison has regularly portrayed Monroe – from soldier to statesman to diplomat to U.S. president – in living history productions, school programs, festivals, plays, vignettes, tours and other special events at the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library in his multi-generational home of Fredericksburg, Va. and many other venues.  He currently serves as a public programs assistant at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.  Harrison worked as an archaeologist and historic preservation consultant for 18 years, an executive director for two nonprofit, community-based organizations for 7 years and has 30 years of museum and interpretation experience.  In addition, he has acted professionally in 12 productions, including seven documentaries primarily for the History Channel, short films, a mini-series on HBO and a pilot for an anticipated series on the Civil War.  Harrison holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a concentration in historical archaeology from the College of William & Mary.  In his spare time, he is a long-distance runner and competes in marathons and half-marathons.

Fierst is a public services librarian at Central Michigan University’s Clarke Historical Library whose interests include the history of the Old Northwest, Great Lakes Native American history and documentary editing.  He holds a bachelor of arts degree in history from Miami University, a master of arts degree in history from the University of Manitoba and a master of library science degree from Kent State University.  He is preparing a scholarly edition of “The Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner” and currently serves as treasurer of the Association for Documentary Editing.

About Monroe County Community College

Founded in 1964, Monroe County Community College is a public, two-year institution supported by tax monies from Monroe County, educational funds from the State of Michigan and student tuition.  

The college’s mission is to enrich and transform lives by providing opportunities and excellence in higher education.  The Main Campus is located at 1555 South Raisinville Road, Monroe, Mich., 48161, with easy access to Toledo and Detroit.  The Whitman Center is located at 7777 Lewis Ave.,Temperance, Mich., 48182, near the Ohio-Michigan Border.  Detailed information about MCCC is available at