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New FL Black History Museum taking public input on content and programs; will the state’s past be accurate?

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New FL Black History Museum taking public input on content and programs; will the state’s past be accurate?

Dec 08, 2023 | 5:12 pm ET
By Mitch Perry
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New FL Black History Museum taking public input on content and programs; will the state’s past be accurate?
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Eleanor Roosevelt visiting with Mary McLeod Bethune (photo credit: State Archives of Florida)

The recently formed Florida Museum of Black History Task Force is now calling on the public to weigh in on what type of programming content should be part of the institution when it’s ultimately created in the coming years.

Black historians have been watching whether the state’s past will be reflected accurately and faithfully and be devoid of politics — if that’s possible.

And tensions have risen over numerous incidents related to Black people in Florida, from the killing of three Black people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville; blocking educators from teaching certain Black history subjects in classrooms; denying funding for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, and approving Florida academic standards in K-12 schools that relate to how Black people benefitted from slavery because it taught them skills.

The hostility has led to travel advisories and Black-based organizations cancelling upcoming conventions in the state.

Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law — (HB 1441) — creating a nine-member task force to provide recommendations for the planning, construction, operation and administration for what would be the first ever state-run Black history museum in Florida.

“Public input is needed in developing recommendations for a future Florida Museum of Black History,” said Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd in a press release. “I encourage Floridians to take the time to complete and share the short survey and join in the effort to create recommendations that the Department of State will submit to the Florida Legislature.”

The survey will be available online through Feb.29, 2024. The Florida Department of State says that responses from the public will be included in the task’s force’s report to the Legislature that has to be completed by July 1, 2024.

“It’s not intended to be a slavery museum,” Orlando-based Democratic Rep. Bruce Antone told the Phoenix earlier this year. “This is not a civil rights museum. This is strictly a museum that would remember the past, celebrate the future and the present, but it would be about the contributions that Black folks and Caribbean immigrants have made to Florida and the history of Florida.