Florida's New Teachings on Slavery 'Offensive,' Distort Brutal Reality
Thursday, August 3, 2023
As Gov. Ron DeSantis promotes claims that enslaved people developed skills for their personal benefit, and is requiring those teachings to middle schoolers, more groups are vehemently condemning the new standards.
The Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association, which represents Black attorneys, issued a joint statement from its nine affiliate members expressing deep concerns.
Cornelius Demps, president of the George Edgecomb Bar Association in Hillsborough County, said children need to know the full story of slavery and its impact.
"Including how slavery impacted African Americans," said Demps, "how they were treated as chattel, how they were abused, tortured, entire blood lines have been taken away, people stripped of their identity coming from the African continent - and then having to find their own way and forge their own future."
DeSantis has ignored the concerns of Black conservatives, suggesting his critics are intentionally misinterpreting the language - while pointing out that William B. Allen, a Black professor emeritus at Michigan State University, worked on the new standards and is defending the wording.
Demps said he wants to see the State Board of Education revise its policy to tell the truth - but if the board insists on keeping the current narrative, he thinks they should tell the full story.
"What happened during Reconstruction, the passage of Jim Crow laws," Demps explained, "how African Americans post-Civil War were one of the largest ethnic groups in the country - skilled laborers, why weren't they able to achieve more - and that's a bigger discussion on how the impact of discrimination for years have continued on."
DeSantis has been doubling down, claiming Vice President Kamala Harris' recent visit to the state was to "score cheap political points."
His campaign has gone on the attack against critics, including Black U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples.
Meanwhile, Florida schools have approved the use of a "supplemental curriculum" created by PragerU, an unaccredited conservative-leaning advocacy group that seeks to offer an alternative to "dominant left-wing ideologies."
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