Florida Senate - 2021 SB 222 By Senator Cruz 18-00321-21 2021222__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to abandoned cemeteries; creating the 3 Task Force on Abandoned African-American Cemeteries; 4 specifying the purpose of the task force; requiring 5 the Department of State to provide administrative and 6 staff support; specifying the composition of the task 7 force; providing meeting requirements; prescribing 8 duties of the task force; requiring the task force to 9 submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature by 10 a specified date; providing for expiration of the task 11 force; requiring the department to partner with 12 specified entities to undertake an investigation of 13 the former Zion Cemetery site; specifying custody of 14 certain historical resources, records, archives, 15 artifacts, research, and medical records; requiring 16 the department to contract with the University of 17 South Florida and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical 18 University for the identification and location of 19 eligible next of kin; requiring the universities to 20 provide certain information regarding descendants to 21 the department by a specified date; directing the 22 Division of Historical Resources of the department to 23 ensure the listing of certain cemeteries in the 24 Florida Master Site File; requiring the division to 25 seek placement of historical markers at certain 26 abandoned cemeteries, subject to certain limitations; 27 authorizing certain persons and organizations to 28 assist the division in researching the history of such 29 cemeteries; specifying that costs associated with the 30 creation and placement of such historical markers be 31 borne by the division; requiring the department to 32 create, place, and maintain memorials at certain 33 sites; providing an effective date. 34 35 WHEREAS, until the conclusion of the Civil War, millions of 36 African Americans in the United States, including Florida, were 37 enslaved, and 38 WHEREAS, following the end of slavery, African Americans 39 continued to be subject to various discriminatory practices, 40 including restrictions on burying the dead, which resulted in 41 segregated cemeteries and burial grounds, and 42 WHEREAS, unlike predominantly white cemeteries and burial 43 grounds, African-American cemeteries and burial grounds were not 44 subject to regulations and recordkeeping necessary to protect 45 the dignity of the deceased, and 46 WHEREAS, as a result, many abandoned African-American 47 cemeteries and burial grounds have been inadvertently discovered 48 following years of disrepair and neglect when land is being 49 redeveloped or has been sold, and 50 WHEREAS, to this day, abandoned African-American cemeteries 51 and burial grounds throughout this state continue to be 52 uncovered, as evidenced by recent reports regarding the former 53 Zion Cemetery site in the Tampa Heights neighborhood and the 54 former Ridgewood Cemetery on the grounds of C. Leon King High 55 School, both in the City of Tampa, and 56 WHEREAS, the State of Florida recognizes its obligation to 57 identify and properly record abandoned African-American 58 cemeteries and burial grounds in order to preserve history, 59 better inform development decisions, and ensure dignity and 60 respect for the deceased, NOW, THEREFORE, 61 62 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 63 64 Section 1. (1) The Task Force on Abandoned African-American 65 Cemeteries, a task force as defined in s. 20.03(8), Florida 66 Statutes, is created adjunct to the Department of State for the 67 express purpose of studying the extent to which unmarked or 68 abandoned African-American cemeteries and burial grounds exist 69 throughout the state and developing and recommending strategies 70 for identifying and recording cemeteries and burial grounds 71 while also preserving local history and ensuring dignity and 72 respect for the deceased. Except as otherwise provided in this 73 section, the task force shall operate in a manner consistent 74 with s. 20.052, Florida Statutes. The department shall provide 75 administrative and staff support relating to the functions of 76 the task force. 77 (2) The task force is composed of the following members: 78 (a) The Secretary of State, or his or her designee, who 79 shall serve as chair. 80 (b) A representative of the Bureau of Archaeological 81 Research of the Division of Historical Resources, appointed by 82 the Secretary of State. 83 (c) One person nominated by the President of the Florida 84 State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement 85 of Colored People and appointed by the Secretary of State. 86 (d) One representative of the Florida Council of Churches, 87 nominated by the executive director of the council and appointed 88 by the Secretary of State. 89 (e) One representative of the Florida African American 90 Heritage Preservation Network, nominated by the executive 91 director of the network and appointed by the Secretary of State. 92 (f) One representative of the Florida Public Archaeology 93 Network, appointed by the Secretary of State. 94 (g) One representative of the cemetery industry, appointed 95 by the Secretary of State. 96 (h) One member of the Senate, appointed by the President of 97 the Senate. 98 (i) One member of the House of Representatives, appointed 99 by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 100 (j) One elected official from a local government, appointed 101 by the Secretary of State. 102 (3) The task force shall hold its first meeting by August 103 1, 2021. The task force may meet as many times as it deems 104 necessary to complete the duties prescribed in this section. 105 (4) The task force shall: 106 (a) Review the findings and recommendations made by the 107 Task Force on Abandoned and Neglected Cemeteries created 108 pursuant to chapter 98-268, Laws of Florida, and any legislative 109 or administrative action that was taken in response to the task 110 force’s findings and recommendations. 111 (b) Examine the adequacy of current practices regarding the 112 preservation of unmarked and abandoned African-American 113 cemeteries and burial grounds and identify any challenges unique 114 to African-American cemeteries and burial grounds. 115 (c) Identify locations of unmarked and abandoned African 116 American cemeteries and burial grounds throughout the state and 117 propose strategies, including any proposed legislation, for the 118 preservation and evaluation of such sites. 119 (d) Make recommendations regarding standards for the 120 creation, placement, and maintenance of a memorial at any 121 identified locations of unmarked and abandoned African-American 122 cemeteries or burial grounds throughout the state. 123 (5) By March 1, 2022, the task force shall submit a report 124 detailing its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the 125 President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of 126 Representatives, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the 127 Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. 128 (6) This section expires July 1, 2022. 129 Section 2. (1)(a) Upon receiving consent of the property 130 owners at the former Zion Cemetery site in Tampa, the Department 131 of State shall partner with the University of South Florida, 132 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and the Zion 133 Cemetery Archaeological Committee formed under the auspices of 134 the Tampa Housing Authority to continue an investigation to 135 determine how many graves remain at the site. 136 (b) Any historical resource, record, archive, artifact, 137 public research, or medical record that is recovered through the 138 course of the investigation by the University of South Florida 139 or the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University shall 140 remain in the custody of either university for archiving and 141 preservation until the Department of State requests custody of 142 such resource, record, archive, artifact, public research, or 143 medical record. 144 (2)(a) The Department of State shall contract with the 145 University of South Florida and Florida Agricultural and 146 Mechanical University for the identification and location of 147 eligible next of kin of those buried at the site. 148 (b) No later than January 1, 2022, the universities shall 149 provide the Department of State with a list of possible 150 descendants of those buried at the site and, to the extent 151 possible, their contact information. 152 (c) For any identification of next of kin occurring on or 153 after January 1, 2022, the universities must provide contact 154 information of the next of kin to the Department of State. 155 Section 3. The Division of Historical Resources of the 156 Department of State shall ensure that any abandoned African 157 American cemetery identified by the Task Force on Abandoned 158 African-American Cemeteries is listed in the Florida Master Site 159 File. Upon such a cemetery’s listing in the Florida Master Site 160 File and in lieu of the normal application process for 161 historical markers, the division must seek placement of an 162 Official Florida Historical Marker at a site so long as the 163 approval of the owner of the property where the marker will be 164 placed has been obtained. A person or an organization affiliated 165 with an abandoned cemetery may assist the division in 166 researching the history of such a site in the preparation of a 167 historical marker’s creation and placement. The costs for the 168 creation and placement of a historical marker authorized 169 pursuant to this section shall be borne by the division. 170 Section 4. As funded by the Legislature, pursuant to 171 Specific Appropriation 3153A of the 2020-2021 General 172 Appropriations Act, the Department of State shall create, place, 173 and maintain a memorial at the site of the former Zion Cemetery 174 in Tampa and at the site of the former Ridgewood Cemetery at C. 175 Leon King High School in Tampa. 176 Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.