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Senator Powell, District 24 — Press Release


May 4, 2023

CONTACT: Michelle DeMarco, 18504875024

Senator Powell’s Forgotten African-American Cemeteries Legislation Clears Senate, Heads to Governor

Tallahassee —

Legislation sponsored by Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) to identify and mark abandoned African American cemeteries throughout Florida received unanimous approval in the Florida Senate today, and now heads to the governor for signature. 

“It falls to this generation to find and honor those who came before us,” said Senator Powell. “This legislation finally gives us the methods and the means to identify forgotten and abandoned burial sites and recognize their locations throughout Florida.” 

SB430 builds on earlier legislation which established the Task Force for Abandoned Cemeteries, a group formed to find ways to mark forgotten graves throughout the state. The effort was launched following news reports of a long-abandoned African American burial site in Tampa that underlay subsequent construction, and other forgotten burial sites since discovered. 

Senator Powell’s legislation would create the Historic Cemeteries Program and the Historic Cemeteries Program Advisory Council within the Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. It also includes funding to help in the research, repair, and restoration of abandoned cemeteries. 

Identical legislation, HB49, sponsored in the Florida House by Representative Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa), unanimously passed the lower chamber in April.