Florida Mayor Requesting $8 Million for African American Museum
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Eatonville, Florida, Town Hall sign

Town Hall sign in downtown Eatonville, Florida, future site of African American History and Heritage Museum

Officials in Eatonville, Florida, recently announced plans to build an $8 million African American History and Heritage Museum in its downtown area. The museum is set to “to collect and preserve the heritage and history of the region’s population of African descendants,” according to a statement.

[Related: Black History Month: Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning Author]

Anthony Grant, the mayor of Eatonville, where prolific anthropologist and writer Zora Neale Hurston hails from, said he plans to ask for funding from the federal government, Orange County Public Schools and the county’s tourist development council.

The plans include 124,000 square-foot facility located on the 100-acre Hungerford school site owned by Orange County Public Schools, according to reports.

Grant announced plans during the town’s annual Zora Festival, which honors the writer’s legacy and commemorates Black History Month.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity. I believe they will be very receptive to it,” Grant said. His hopes are to break ground in five years.

The town reportedly has School Board permission to find a buyer for the site, and a qualifications request is expected to be issued soon. The town’s mayor indicated it would be expected that any potential developer would incorporate the museum and center into their plans.

“The developer can be as creative as they want to be,” Grant told the Orlando Sentinel. “There will be great flexibility.”

He added that an advisory task force of Eatonville residents, along with tourism and development experts would be formed to strategize about fundraising sources and solutions.

School district general counsel Woody Rodriguez said the process for choosing qualified developers could take 30 to 60 days, and the process of sifting through proposals to choose a developer would take another 60 to 90 days.

If completed, the museum will be the largest research center on African American history in Florida.

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Janell Hazelwood

Janell Hazelwood is associate managing editor at Black Enterprise, managing content across core areas of Money, Career, Small Business and Technology. She is also a featured blogger with My Two Cents, providing insights on branding, millennial career development, employment trends and leadership. She was previously a content producer and copy editor for Black Enterprise magazine, working across several editorial sections. The Hampton University graduate got her start in the newspaper industry, having worked for companies including The New York Times and Scripps Howard News Service. Her works and insights have appeared on The Huffington Post, MadameNoire, E!Online, Brazen Careerist, CBS News, and Arise TV.

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