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Opa-locka chosen as potential site for Florida's first Black history museum

A variety of community services are headquartered in a public plaza in Opa-Locka, Florida.
Wikimedia Commons
A variety of community services are headquartered in a public plaza in Opa-Locka, Florida.

A committee on Friday narrowed down options for the site of a Florida Museum of Black History, selecting as finalists St. Johns County, Eatonville in Orange County and Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County.

Whittled from a list of eight locations, the selections by the Florida Museum of Black History Task Force will next undergo an analysis by Florida A&M University’s School of Architecture and Engineering Technology. The historically Black school’s findings are to be completed before a May 21 meeting.

“There are so many stories that we haven’t told, that we will have an opportunity to tell, through this museum,” Sen. Geraldine Thompson, a Windermere Democrat who chairs the task force, said during Friday’s meeting.

READ MORE: Opa-locka's Heritage Trail celebrates 97 years of rich historical architecture

“It’s very, very important that we choose a location that will mean the museum will be self-sustaining and won’t continually be a budget item for the state of Florida,” Thompson added.

State lawmakers in 2023 created the task force to make recommendations on plans for a Florida Museum of Black History. The legislation, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, required the task force to develop plans for the museum addressing overviews of different Black cultures in Florida, stretching from the 19th century into Reconstruction, the origins of the Jim Crow period and the civil rights movement.

“We know about the NASA mathematicians and engineers, but we want to be able to stretch that out as well in a much more broader way,” John Grandage, assistant director of Historical Research at the Department of State, said.

The legislation also requires the committee to devise a plan on how the museum can become self-sustaining.

Contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen and all African American veterans must also be featured — plus materials on state educator and civil rights activist Doctor Mary McLeod Bethune.

News Service of Florida
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