Possible site for state Black history museum narrowed to 3; Sarasota narrowly misses out

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Graphic presented to committee from Sarasota// Credit: Visit Sarasota County, 2023

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Members of the Black History Museum Task Force chose the top three choices for a future Black history museum in Florida. Sarasota narrowly missed out on the opportunity.

St John’s County in North Florida was ranked as the top choice for the new museum. It was followed by Eatonville in Orange County in second and Opa-Locka in third.

Sarasota had proposed the Marian Anderson Place as the location of the new site. It’s located in Newtown, a predominately black neighborhood in Sarasota. Vicki Oldham is the president of the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition and advocated for the museum.

“Our biggest obstacle was the size of the site that we selected. St. Augustine and Eatonville, they proposed a much larger facility than we did.”

The Sarasota team mentioned other possible locations for the museum, which led to doubt from some board members, including Gayle Phillips.

“After today, we are supposed to be forwarding this to the architect at FAMU to work on specific sites, and how can we do that if now you’re bringing in a totally different location?”

Initially, Sarasota was ranked 3rd of 4 choices for the museum. But, after today’s vote to narrow to the top 3, the number 3 spot was replaced by Opa-Locka in Miami.

Despite the defeat, Oldham is optimistic about black history in Florida.

“Wherever the museum is built, I want Sarasota black history to be remembered.”

The committee is set to choose a final location to recommend before July 1st, and send it to the Governor and other state officials.

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