Orlando, Florida. A Florida House representative is looking to hold the state more accountable through reparations when it comes to the Groveland Four.
Florida needs to make adjustments, said Representative Geraldine Thompson, Democrat of Orlando. “Rather than just saying we’re sorry.”
Thomson introduced HB 1133 on Monday.
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Set to provide business loans to black entrepreneurs and scholarships honoring Ernest Thomas, Samuel Shepherd, Walter Irvine, and Charles Greenley; The group is widely known as the Groveland Four.
The four men were wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1949. They were killed before their cases could be tried or retried.
The group was acquitted last year, having previously been pardoned.
“People don’t understand when you say the word compensation, it’s simply to repair the damage done and not to give people some amount of money,” Representative Thompson said.
Instead of a measure of money, compensation, according to Thompson, can come in the form of scholarships.
The bill is set to allow an annual payment of $6,100 for up to 50 students per year, with the Groveland Four’s descendants ranking first on the list.
Low-interest loans are also in the bill prioritizing, “any applications to black business enterprises in areas directly affected by the injustices of the Groveland Four.”
“The Department of Economic Opportunities will set the criteria for the loan program, but we have requested that it be modeled on the business black investment fund that is in operation now,” Thompson said.
Representative Thompson says she believes the bill will pass and says this has been done before.
“Looking at the Rosewood massacre, there were scholarships for the descendants of Rosewood, and last year for the descendants of the Okoye massacre, scholarships were created,” Thompson said.
The state legislature meets next Tuesday. Thompson says the bill still needs to be appointed by a committee before it can be voted on in the House and Senate.
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