Fort Pierce Republican Dana Trabulsy on Tuesday filed legislation to encourage Florida public schools to teach children the history of local African American cemeteries.
The bill would add one sentence to existing Florida statute on the teaching of African American history.
“Members of the instructional staff are encouraged to include the history of local African-American cemeteries in the study of the history of African Americans when practicable,” the sentence reads.
The bill comes after the 2019 discovery of a forgotten African American cemetery beneath a Tampa Heights neighborhood. That find spurred the search and eventual discovery of more African American cemeteries around Tampa Bay and Florida.
During the last Legislative Session, two Tampa Democrats, Rep. Fentrice Driskell and Sen. Janet Cruz, were able to pass a bill leading to the formation of the Abandoned African-American Cemeteries Task Force. They had also pushed for the task force a year before.
Trabulsy’s bill is not related to the task force. But during a meeting of the task force last week, members identified education as one aspect of a three-tier framework for the recommendations it will send to the Legislature by the end of the year.
While the title only mentions African American cemeteries, Trabulsy’s bill also references an unrelated part of the statute.
The bill addresses paragraph H in subsection two of section 42 of Florida Statute Chapter 1003. The section covers required instruction in Florida public schools. The two-sentences of paragraph H are the only ones dealing with African American history.
Paragraphs S and T deal with a character development program geared toward patriotism and respect for authority, and teaching about sacrifices made by veterans.
Trabulsy’s African American Cemeteries bill also mentions the Board of Education to adopt standards to add a “character development program that incorporates the values of the recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor and that is offered as part of a social studies, English Language Arts, or other schoolwide character building and veteran awareness initiative meets the requirements of paragraphs (s) and (t)(sic).”
Driskell could not be reached Wednesday morning.