Bruce Antone argues state Black History Museum task force is a ‘failure’ and should disband

Bruce Antone
In May, a state task force chose St. Augustine to be the Black History Museum home over Orange County.

Rep. Bruce Antone criticized the Florida Museum of Black History Task Force as a “failure” after the group chose St. Augustine over the greater Orlando area for a new museum.

“The Florida Museum of Black History Task Force should quietly end and disband tomorrow (i.e. Friday, June 28) without making any recommendations,” Antone said in a press release.

“People across the State of Florida and the United States, especially Black People and Caribbean Immigrants, were excitedly watching the meetings of the Florida Museum of Black History Task Force with high hopes and anticipation that Florida would build a Large World Class Black History Museum. The Task Force failed to complete the tasks required by the legislation which created the Task Force.”

Antone sent a 23-page letter to the task force outlining his concerns and arguing the group’s recommendation should be scrapped before next week’s deadline to report back to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature. The Orlando Democrat sponsored HB 1441, which created the task force to explore building the museum.

“The task force really veered off course because they were intent on putting it in St. Augustine,” Antone told Florida Politics in an interview. “It was a failed process. I think we need to just start over.”

In his letter, one of the requirements for the task force was to make recommendations on exhibits, research and artifacts. Instead, about one-third of the task force’s meetings focused on its location, Antone said in the letter.

“At the end of the day, they did not come up with a finished project. If anything, this task force should have been talked about the content, the stories. They spent no time talking about that. It was strictly about location,” he said in an interview.

The task force was also supposed to determine how the museum would be marketed, designed and built, and how it would be financially self-sustaining, the letter said.

In May, the state task force chose St. Augustine to be the museum’s new home over Eatonville, just outside Orlando.

Antone argued Eatonville’s proximity to Orlando, where 74 million tourists visit annually, makes it more attractive and more accessible by public transit than St. Augustine, located in St. Johns County.

Eatonville is also the nation’s first incorporated Black municipality, while St. Augustine is the first settlement for free Black People.

Antone said the decision was political. In his letter, he accused at least four task members of being biased for St. Augustine since the beginning of the process.

House Speaker oPaul Renner, whose district includes St. Johns, appointed three of the members who supported St. Augustine. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is from nearby Jacksonville, appointed the other two, who also sided with St. Augustine.

Antone said the task force will “create unnecessary confusion, impediments, and hinder future proposals put forward by legislators to secure funding for a high quality, world class Black History Museum,” according to the letter.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • ScienceBLVR

    June 27, 2024 at 7:19 pm

    I guess we really do need a Black History Museum in Florida since our governor, Ron DeRacist, won’t let us teach Black history in schools anymore. And Orlando makes a lot of sense.. St. Augustine? Is there even an airport there?

  • Harold Finch

    June 28, 2024 at 8:04 am

    Why don’t they put it in Tallahassee, near the Capitol?

  • My Take

    June 28, 2024 at 4:54 pm

    Every large public project brings out the lampreys.
    “How do we twist it to OUR advantage?”

Comments are closed.


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