Lawmakers in Florida have secured $30 million in funding for African American history museums in need of financial help throughout the state.
According to Spectrum Bay News 9, state Sens. Rudolph Bracey and Daryl Rouson say museums in need of assistance can apply to receive grants ranging from $500,000 to $1 million by providing a 50 percent match in funding.
A good chunk of the money comes from a $10 billion surplus of federal funds the state received, the television station reports.
From Spectrum Bay News:
“$500 thousand is a great shot in the arm for a lot of institutions that have been struggling to find adequate funding to tell the story of African American history,” Rouson said.
Various institutions dedicated to preserving and sharing African American history call Florida home, including Miami’s Haitian Heritage Museum, DeLand’s African American Museum of the Arts and the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum based in St. Petersburg.
Terri Lipsy Scott, executive director of the Woodson Museum, told Spectrum Bay News that the funding would help the museum get closer to reaching its $26 million goal to build a new facility.
More from Spectrum:
“I like to affectionately call this project the Smithsonian of the South,” Woodson Museum Executive Director Terri Lipsy Scott said. “There are countless African American museums here in the state of Florida and sadly enough, not one of them have been constructed for being a proper African American museum.”
The Washington Post reported last year that American museums focusing on Black history are “chronically underfunded” despite their dedication to telling stories and collecting artifacts that have been largely ignored by mainstream museums. This issue, like almost everything else, was not helped by the financial hamstrings put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Examples of recent efforts to provide financial help for some of these institutions and other sites and organizations tied to Black history include the $3 million in grants distributed by the African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund last month and the Black Archives History & Research Foundation of South Florida receiving a $250,000 grant to digitize its periodical collection.
Stories like these are always great to hear, but they’re also a sign that there’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure the barriers preventing these institutions from getting the financial assistance they need to continue preserving history.
Even so, this is definitely a good place to start.