Black History Museum Task Force Moves Closer to Final Report

Black History Museum Task Force Moves Closer to Final Report

Things are heating up in the effort to bring the Florida Museum of Black History to reality.

The project to create a museum celebrating Florida’s Black history comes from a bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May of last year, and includes the selection of a nine-member Task Force appointed by DeSantis, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner.

The Task Force is charged with providing recommendations for the planning, construction, operation and administration of the Museum. According to the legislation signed by DeSantis, the Museum is to be “a multipurpose facility capable of generating self-sustaining revenues, with archival research and storage facilities, meeting rooms, a full-service banquet facility and a performing arts center.” The Task Force is required to file its final report by July 1.

At the Task Force’s latest meeting in late March, members discussed how they would narrow the current list of eight communities vying to host the museum to three or four finalists.

Alissa Lotane, director of the Florida Division of Historical Resources, reviewed the status of presentations submitted to the Task Force and told members a scoring sheet would be sent to them to rate the presentations. Those preliminary scores are to be returned by April 12 so the information can be collected in time for the Task Force’s April 19 meeting.

“This is how we’ve done many of our grant panel meetings in the past,” Lotane said. “At the end, per each project, we would have the scores averaged, rank them highest to lowest and then take the top three.”

Task Force member Howard Holley, who is also publisher of EVOLVE News, asked if the April 19 meeting would also include in-person presentations from the finalist communities.

Chair Geraldine Thompson, who joined the meeting late, said it was her recollection that the top 3 finalists would be invited to the April meeting.

“We would have a week to invite the top 3 contenders to be with us in person on the 19th rather than wait until May,” she said.

Lotane said while that was not what was initially envisioned for the process, it would “work well.”

Because Task Force members will have the opportunity to change their ranking order at the April 19 meeting, Holley said there could be four communities at the top “depending on how the scores come out.” To ensure a full and fair consideration of the applicants, the Task Force approved a motion to invite the top 4 contenders to the April meeting.

Also at the meeting, Task Force members reviewed the results of a public survey conducted about the Museum and heard presentations on museum best practices, the Division of Arts & Culture grant programs and the Division of Historical Resources grant programs.