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Abandoned African-American Cemeteries Task Force

Background

On June 4, 2021, Governor DeSantis signed into law CS/CS/HB 37 (Chapter 2021-60, Laws of Florida) relating to Abandoned Cemeteries. The bill created a 10-member Task Force on Abandoned African-American Cemeteries (“Task Force”), adjunct to the Department of State (“Department”), to:

1. Study the extent to which unmarked or abandoned African-American cemeteries and burial grounds exist throughout the state; and
2. Develop and recommend strategies for identifying and recording cemeteries and burial grounds while preserving local history and ensuring dignity and respect for the deceased.

Specifically, the bill requires the Task Force to:

1. Review the findings and recommendations made by the Task Force on Abandoned and Neglected Cemeteries created pursuant to Chapter 98-268, Laws of Florida, and any legislative or administrative action taken in response to the Task Force’s findings and recommendations.
2. Examine the adequacy of current practices regarding the preservation of unmarked and abandoned African-American cemeteries and burial grounds and identify any challenges unique to African-American cemeteries and burial grounds.
3. Identify locations of unmarked and abandoned African-American cemeteries and burial grounds throughout the state and propose strategies, including any proposed legislation, for the preservation and evaluation of such sites.
4. Make recommendations regarding standards for the creation, placement, and maintenance of a memorial at any identified locations of unmarked and abandoned African-American cemeteries or burial grounds throughout the state.
5. Submit a report by January 1, 2022, detailing its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.


The Department is required to provide administrative and staff support relating to the functions of the Task Force. The Task Force is scheduled to expire on March 11, 2022.

 

Members

The members appointed to the Task Force are: 

 

MEMBER

REPRESENTING ENTITY

AREA

1.

Dr. Timothy Parsons, Chair

Director, Division of Historical Resources,

Florida Department of State

Secretary of State, Laurel M. Lee’s designee

Statewide

2.

Dr. Kathryn O’Donnell Miyar

Bureau Chief, Bureau of Archaeological Research,

Division of Historical Resources,

Florida Department of State

Bureau of Archaeological Research, Division of Historical Resources

Statewide

3.

Ms. Yvette Lewis

President, NAACP Hillsborough County Branch

Florida State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Hillsborough County

4.

Dr. Antoinette Jackson

Professor and Chair,

Department of Anthropology, USF

Florida Council of Churches

Tampa

5.

Ms. Althemese Barnes

Executive Director, FAAHPN

Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network (FAAHPN)

North Florida Region

6.

Mr. Jeffery T. Moates

West Central Region Director, FPAN

Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN)

West Central Region

7.

Mr. Keenan L. Knopke

President & CEO

Curlew Hills Memory Gardens, Inc.

Cemetery Industry

Temple Terrace

8.

Senator Janet Cruz

Florida Senate

Part of Hillsborough County

9.

Representative Fentrice Driskell

Florida House of Representatives

Part of Hillsborough County

10.

Mr. Jaha Cummings

Council Member, City of Punta Gorda

Local government

Punta Gorda

Meeting Information

First Meeting - July 20, 2021 2:00 p.m.

Mission San Luis Visitors Center, 2100 W. Tennessee St., Tallahassee, FL 32304

Agenda

 

Additional Resources

Chapter 2021-60, Laws of Florida

Final Report of the Task Force on Abandoned and Neglected Cemeteries Pursuant to Chapter 98-268, Laws of Florida

 

Contact

For questions about the Abandoned African-American Cemeteries Task Force, or to provide comments regarding African-American Cemeteries, please email us at [email protected].

 

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