Diversity, equity and inclusion programs open doors for people of different backgrounds to enable them to succeed and grow.
University programs such as African American history and other minority studies could possibly be under threat in Florida if House Bill 999 is put into law. Some political figures are taking things into their own hands and drafting bills to help DEI programs remain.
State Representative Bruce Antone plans to create a task force for building a Florida museum of Black history in Orlando. The museum will cover the Tuskegee Airmen, the discussion of slaves helping to build the Florida Capitol building, the Civil Rights movement, African American Civil Rights activists and more.
If the bill is passed, he is hopeful to start construction within the next two years.
“People will not have to visit the museum in Alabama or Washington, they will have a museum right here in their home state. Tourists come to Orlando for Disney or Universal but building this museum, they may stay an extra night,” Antone said.
The museum will expound on Florida A&M University’s Meek Eaton Black Archives. The Black Archives serves as a research center for students, faculty and the general public.
The center is 1 of 10 archives in the United States and the largest relating to African American history and culture in the Southeast. Visitors to the Black Archives include people throughout the United States and other countries.
The Black Archives were named after trailblazers U.S. Congresswoman Carrie Pittman Meek and James Eaton, founder of the Black Archives and history professor at Florida A&M. Eaton said, “African American history is the history of America.”
Florida A&M University student Isadora Saint-Juste is hopeful lawmakers will approve funding for the museum in Orlando.
“African Americans have a lot of history in Florida. I think this [proposed museum in Orlando] is a great idea. We would have two places in the state of Florida to visit and learn more about African American history and how it applies today,” Saint-Juste said.
Javon Thomas, a member of the Progressive Black Men Inc. chapter at Florida A&M University, wonders if there is going to political support for the proposed museum.
“This is a very interesting bill, considering everything that is going on with the diversity bills within Florida. I think it’s important that we keep our history alive,” Thomas said.
Antone said, “The museum can become a field trip in the Florida school curriculum and adults can enjoy it as well.”
No action has been taken on the bill recently but said he is hopeful it will make it to the House floor soon.