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Orange County Schools commits to partnering with Eatonville on a Black history museum

 Students at the Hungerford School.
The Association To Preserve The Eatonville Community
Students at the Hungerford School.

The school district has sent a letter of intent to donate 10 acres of land from the former Hungerford site to the museum.

Orange County Schools has sent a letter of intent to donate 10 acres of the former Hungerford School property to the town of Eatonville for a Black history museum.

The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community is in ongoing litigation with Orange County Schools over ownership of the site of the former Hungerford School, the first Black school in Central Florida.

If that lawsuit is dropped or the judge rules in the district’s favor, the district is committed to donating 10 acres from the former Hungerford site to Eatonville for a Black history museum.

School Board member Karen Castor Dentel, who spearheaded the letter, said she’s thrilled to be partnering with Eatonville on this project.

“I mean, this could be something that also spurs economic development. And further enhances the historical lessons in Eatonville where there are walking tours. I mean, it's a living history,” said Castor Dentel.

And she said this partnership doesn’t have to end once the museum is built.

“And we are committing to partner and having resources that we share for our students. And we can use it for teacher trainings. So the partnership really is strong, even after the museum is built,” said Castor Dentel. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center released this statement in regards to the Black history museum in Eatonville:

“SPLC is aware of Eatonville being considered as a possible location for an African American history museum. Litigation will continue until the court issues a final order, or alternatively, if the parties reach an agreement to resolve the issues regarding the Hungerford property. We would welcome discussions with OCPS to resolve the issues in the lawsuit by ensuring the Hungerford property is used to benefit the public, consistent with the 1951 deed restriction requiring that the land be used for educational purposes. However, OCPS is the current owner of the land at the center of the lawsuit, and they are the only entity that can answer what happens to the land in relation to a museum."

Florida committed to building a Black history museum in 2023, with Eatonville chosen as one of the potential sites.

The list of potential sites include: Daytona Beach, Havana, Jackson County, Nassau County/Amelia Island, Opa-locka, Orange County, Panama City Beach, Quincy, Sarasota, Seminole County, St. Johns County/St. Augustine and St. Petersburg.

The site that is ultimately chosen must teach the following history:

  • The role of African-American participation in defending and preserving Florida and the United States, including, by way of example and without limitation, the contributions of the residents of Fort Mose, the Tuskegee Airmen, and all African- American veterans
  • The history of slavery in the state
  • The history of segregation in the state
  • Notable African Americans in this state
  • Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, including the founding of Bethune Cookman University
  • The history of historically black colleges and universities in this state
  • The inherent worth and dignity of human life, with a focus on the prevention of genocide

Read the bill that set up the museum here:

Copyright 2024 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur
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