St. Johns Site Eyed for Black History Museum

TALLAHASSEE — A state task force Tuesday backed a St. Johns County location for a Black history museum over competing proposals from Central Florida and South Florida.

Now, members of the Florida Museum of Black History Task Force must quickly determine how a St. Augustine-area facility would be promoted, attract charitable dollars and hold events to become self-sufficient.

With a July 1 deadline to present plans to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature, task force members voted 5-4 to accept rankings that put the St. Johns County location ahead of proposed locations in Eatonville in Orange County and Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County. The museum has not been funded.

Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat who didn’t vote in favor of using the scoring process, said the goal is to get a museum that serves more than a regional location.

“We are hoping for a big museum, a huge museum that benefits the entire state,” Powell said.

Task Force member Tony Lee later said that “if the state would like to fully fund their museum, I wouldn’t stand in their way.”

Subscribe to The Florida Jolt Newsletter!

Before the meeting, the St. Johns County location was ranked highest by task-force members based on individual scoring of eight potential sites. Eatonville came in second. The task force then voted narrowly Tuesday to approve those rankings.

Questions were raised over the scoring of Rep. Kiyan Michael, a Jacksonville Republican and task force member, who gave the St. Augustine-area location a perfect score and Eatonville its lowest marks.

Michael said Tuesday she didn’t have to justify her voting but that she did not “act deliberately” to affect the scoring.

“I took information that was given,” Michael said.

Lawmakers in 2023 created the task force to make recommendations that include potential tourism marketing and financial plans for the museum, which would address issues such as historical Black cultures in the state, the origins of the Jim Crow period and the civil-rights movement.

Follow Florida Jolt on Twitter

The proposed sites were anticipated to handle a 100,000 square-foot facility or larger, though the sizes of the sites varied. At $1,000 a square foot, such a facility would require at least $100 million to build and maintain, according to an estimate.

The museum complex would include such things as meeting rooms, banquet facilities and a performing-arts theater available for private events.

Supporters of the Eatonville location argued the site would succeed because of its proximity to Orlando and its tourism industry.

Sen. Geraldine Thompson, a Windemere Democrat who chairs the task force, said the Eatonville location could benefit through cross-sponsorships with regional attractions across Central Florida.

Angela Johnson, a fifth generation Floridian from Central Florida told the committee the proposed Eatonville site would be ready for development without environmental concerns, which she contended might be present in the St. Johns County site.

Supporters of the St. Augustine-area proposal countered that Northeast Florida has centuries of history, including the nation’s first free Black settlement.

St. Johns County Administrator Joy Andrews told the task force the county would be willing to pay for a feasibility study to address concerns that have been expressed over the site.

St. Johns County Commission Chairwoman Sarah Arnold said after the vote “it is a state museum. We just happened to approach our pitch from a regional process.”

Other stories you may want to read:

Trump Fundraising Tops Biden For First Time – Outraises Dems by $25M

Dennis Prager: Universities Breed Evil

Share via
Share via
Thank you for sharing! Sign up for emails!
Making our country Great Again and keeping America First takes teamwork.

Subscribe to our newsletter, join our team of Patriots, and read real conservative news you can trust.

Invalid email address
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Send this to a friend