Mon, Jul 15, 2024



The county advanced to another level, but the competition is not over yet.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla — St. Johns County came out on top – again. That’s the result of a vote for the location of the yet-to-be-built Florida Black History Museum.

Eight cities and counties across the Sunshine State threw their names into the hat late last year.  

As of last month, the nine-member Florida Black History Museum Task Force narrowed down the list of eight contenders to three, with St. Johns County at the top, followed by Eatonville outside of Orlando and Opa-locka outside of Miami.

Tuesday, the ranking remained the same with a very narrow task force vote of 5 – 4 for St. Augustine and St. Johns County to be the top recommendation for the museum site.

St. Johns County Administrator Joy Andrews addressed the task force Tuesday in Tallahassee. She later told First Coast News that the vote to keep St. Johns County as the top choice is “monumental to the St. Johns community.”

St. Johns County and Eatonville residents were both at the meeting in Tallahassee Tuesday, touting their community’s financial support and location strengths, even after the vote.

St. Johns County Commissioner Sarah Arnold addressed the task force’s concerns about financial feasibility, by listing some of the community partners who’ve thrown their support behind the St. Augustine location. 

“We have support from Community Foundation of Northeast Florida, the Jesse Ball Dupont Fund, United Way, three or four HBCU’s, the Jaguars Foundation,” and her list went on. 

Angela Johnson, who spoke in support of Eatonville said, “Accessibility to that location is not a challenge,” as she listed the nearby public transportation options and easy travel distance to Interstate 95 and an airport. 

Some Eatonville supporters criticized the task force’s decision for St. Johns County. 

Representative Bruce Antone (D-Orlando) told the task force, “I don’t understand the decision-making.” He added, “I presented to you a plan. We did our homework!”

The proposed location in St. Augustine is on Holmes Boulevard and West King Street on a 17-acre site of the former Florida Memorial College, a historically Black college.

Landing the state-of-the-art Florida Black History Museum is expected to bring the surrounding community financial responsibility as well as an economic influx of tourists and prestige.

Now, a feasibility study will take place for all three locations.

The task force will meet again on June 5, and it may meet again late in June. Their final recommendation will ultimately go to the governor, senate president, house speaker and other state leaders to make a final decision.



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johndweiner@gmail.com

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