Eatonville makes pitch to host Florida’s black history museum

EATONVILLE, Fla. — The Town of Eatonville made its pitch in January to become the location for the Florida black history musuem.


On Friday, finalists will appear in front of a task force to discuss their proposals.

Hank Van Putten has been an educator for 50 years.

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“Whenever I think about history, I think about times we take our pictures in school,” Van Putten said. “The second we got that picture back, the first thing we did was look for ourselves in that picture. Now we’re being erased, and not visible in that picture.”

In the same month that Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law that led to a wave of book bans, he also signed into law a task force to create a state-run Black History museum.

“My only concern is that our true stories are told,” van Putten said.

community members question how much the state would control and if history would face the same restrictions seen with books in schools.

“The state is giving a portion of the funds, and we will raise the rest of the funds,” Shaniqua Rose said.  “So raising the rest of the funds means we will have to say so and what happens here.”

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Shaniqua Rose is the lead coordinator for the museum and project in Eatonville.

“We will be able to have control,” Rose said.

Eatonville made the top four locations for the museum, along with Saint Johns County, which wants it built on a former plantation.

“Tell the history that has happened here,” Rose said.

Eatonville is proposing the historic Hungerford property, one of the first schools African Americans were allowed to attend in Central Florida.

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“When folks have a personal connection to history regardless of what side they may be on, the fact the story is being told and being told accurately is most important,” Van Putten said.

The task force has to pick and make its recommendation to the governor by July 1st.

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