The state of Florida’s newly approved curriculum for teaching Black history in its schools conspicuously whitewashes slavery and other major aspects of the documented Black experience in the United States, critics said after officials authorized the studies program on Wednesday.
Still, the Florida Board of Education unanimously adopted the new measures in the face of demonstrated opposition in a state that has been dedicated to eliminating Black studies courses.
Board members defended the new curriculum as having “addressed” everything that it deems important in Black history, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
“Everything is there,” MaryLynn Magar told the Democrat. “The darkest parts of our history are addressed, and I’m very proud of the task force.
Magar, a Republican former State Rep., was appointed to the board just four months ago by Gov. Ron DeSantis, an open opponent of teaching Black history.
“I can confidently say that the DOE and the task force believe that African American history is American history, and that’s represented in those standards,” Magar added.
The board notably has one person of color on the seven-person panel.
“Today’s actions by the Florida state government are an attempt to bring our country back to a 19th century America where Black life was not valued, nor our rights protected,” NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “It is imperative that we understand that the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow were a violation of human rights and represent the darkest period in American history. We refuse to go back. The NAACP has been fighting against malicious actors such as those within the DeSantis Administration for over a century, and we’re prepared to continue that fight by any means necessary. Our children deserve nothing less than truth, justice, and the equity our ancestors shed blood, sweat, and tears for.”
A coalition of civil rights groups specifically said the new curriculum revises “key historical facts about the Black experience” to soften their brutal realities for white students’ consumption.
“We owe the next generation of scholars the opportunity to know the full unvarnished history of this state and country and all who contributed to it – good and bad,” the letter from Ben Gibson said in part.
The latest development in Florida’s war against so-called woke culture came months after DeSantis defended the state rejecting AP African American studies courses from being taught in schools, calling it “radical.”
In fact, the Republican presidential candidate has proudly recently proclaimed that “DEI is over in Florida,” a reference to efforts to bring diversity to areas where there are none, including and especially educational curriculum.
Just days before Juneteenth last month, DeSantis took steps to slash state funds that were reserved for Black history education programs, making no secret of his intent.
In case it’s unclear why teaching Black history is so important, one only needs to look to W.E.B. Du Bois to understand what is at stake in current conversations about African American studies.
Back in 1951, the civil rights activist and scholar who is one of the founders of the NAACP wrote a newspaper article under the headline “Negro History Week.” In that article, he wrote words that still remain true 72 years later in 2023: “as it becomes more universally known what Negroes contributed to America in the past, more must logically be said and taught concerning the future.”
This is America.
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