New bill creates task force to identify, memorialize abandoned African American cemeteries

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – A new piece of legislation aims at identifying abandoned African American cemeteries and burial grounds across Florida.

On Thursday, Senator Janet Cruz and Representative Fentrice Driskell spoke about HB 37, which was unanimously passed in the Florida legislature to create a task force to study, find, and memorialize lost African American cemeteries in the state.

“With this task force we find our chance as a state to work together to think through the best ways to honor those who were lost but who should never ever be forgotten,” said Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa).

The announcement was made at Robles Park Village, the site of Zion Cemetery, a lost African American cemetery that was discovered back in 2019.

While this new bill is a step in the right direction, the President of the Hillsborough NAACP said there is still a long way to go.

“We have many more forgotten and stolen African American cemetery stories to uncover,” said Yvette Lewis, President of Hillsborough NAACP.

Members of the task force will be named next month when the bill goes into effect.

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