Bobby Powell calls for ‘examination’ into what’s driving ‘galling’ new state Black history curriculum
Bobby Powell

The South Florida Democrat is part of the a growing chorus of condemnation for the new standards the state Board of Education adopted.

Sen. Bobby Powell is adding his voice to the growing chorus condemning the state’s new African American history teaching standards which include the assertion that slaves could benefit from their circumstances.

The West Palm Beach Democrat called for an examination into what’s driving the “one-sided agenda” that produced this direction for state education curriculum.

One standard the state Board of Education adopted, which created a firestorm of controversy, says, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” It’s been met with a chorus of disapproval and outrage from many quarters, including Vice President Kamala Harris.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said he wants the full story to be told, saying the standards go into great depth, providing students with the information they need in an age-appropriate fashion.

But Powell says the assertion slavery in any way benefited the enslaved is infuriating — and reflects a deep ignorance on state officials’ part.

Powell’s sentiment has been spreading. The new curriculum has drawn similar rebukes from teachers’ unions, both state and local chapters, and numerous lawmakers, such as Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani and Democratic Sen. Geraldine Thompson, both speakers at this week’s meeting of the state Education Board, according to POLITICO.

“Shall we say the same of other people who in the history of mankind, also found themselves enslaved? That it was good for them? That they derived a personal benefit from the captivity?” Powell said in a statement released Friday. “And when the dogs and the water cannons, the police batons and the lynching mobs were let loose on these former African American slaves, was that for their ‘personal benefit’ as well?”

Diaz, a Hialeah Republican, called the new standards “robust” and inclusive of “the slave trade, Jim Crow laws, civil rights movement (and) everything that occurred throughout our history.”

“If anyone takes the time to actually look at the standards, you can see that everything is covered,” he said.

The new, 216-page set of guidelines, which the Florida Board of Education adopted Wednesday, do not include a requirement for elementary and middle school students to learn about Black history after the Reconstruction era, a period of marked hostility and discrimination against African Americans.

Students must be able to “identify African Americans who demonstrated heroism and patriotism,” including Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the Tuskegee Airmen, among others.

That’s not enough, Powell said.

“The full measure of African American history is not a hand-picked Rosa Parks here and a Martin Luther King Jr. there,” Powell said. “It is the sweeping collection of stories spanning several centuries, the lessons of cruelty and inhumanity interwoven in the determination of a people to live and breathe free. It is as much Florida’s story as the nation’s story and it needs to be fully told.”


Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • My Take

    July 22, 2023 at 7:37 am

    Which racist Republican will have the Holocaust Memorial explain how some Jews in the work concentration camps learned valuable trade skills that later served to the survivors- benefit. These would have been a lot more numerous than black blacksmiths.
    And the Soviet gulags taught a lot of captive people to be salt miners. Where is that in the history books?

  • My Take

    July 22, 2023 at 10:52 am

    Today’s Republicans are morally unfit to design instrùction for America’s children anywhere within the realms of history–espeçially American–social studies, civics, and the likes.
    Republicans are basically dishonest and have biases to push. They typically are also topically ignorant.

  • Angela Jones

    July 23, 2023 at 9:47 am

    How much more blatant can racism get in Florida? The entire State Board of Education is white and they feel qualified to say what black history is and what should and should not be taught? How about teaching the truth. The problem is that racism is so ingrained that people don’t even see it!

    • Acie Jenkins

      July 23, 2023 at 7:32 pm


  • Jimmie Ward

    July 23, 2023 at 10:21 am

    Ron desatan can try to white wash Black history all he wants what’s done in the dark will come to light this fool is dangerous to Black people he must be stopped in Florida and by no means can he ever be president of the I don’t care if he went to Harvard he’s not that smart but he is racist to core

    • Neetneet

      July 23, 2023 at 11:53 am

      Ron DeSantis is dangerous for the entire country. He is insensitive, racist and an unrealistic narcissist….a dangerous combination for someone with any kind of power. If left to roam, he will create chaos, and sins unrepentant.

  • Queenie Reigns

    July 23, 2023 at 10:37 am

    When I was in school, my white teachers taught me lies about black history. I remember how they taught the entire class that Africa was a “Dark Continent” and that Africa contributed nothing to the world. I also remember being told that the enslaved people were happy and they never rebelled against the slavers. Knowing that my ancestors came from there, I remember feeling worthless.

    Just like the Holocaust is being taught in German school system, the students should learn the TRUTH. Stop allowing the Daughters of the Revolution to dictate what should be written about black history.

    I think Black history should be a separate curriculum taught by BLACK teachers/historians. After my experience, I have never trusted the school system to educate my son about black history. I’m so glad I was able to homeschool and he learned the entire TRUTH!

  • Concerned

    July 23, 2023 at 11:03 am

    Republicans are the party of propaganda, they want our children to be stupid so they have future voters. They expect us to believe January 6th was a peaceful protest, and Trump is not guilty of everything he is being accused of doing plus some. They want people to believe they are Christians, and they will not take your social security check and Medicare away when that is exactly what they plan on doing. They say they are the party of law and order while preforming several criminal acts. They say they are protecting our children while trying to make laws for grown men to marry 12 year old girls and remove child labor laws. They say they want stronger borders while trucking in illegal minors to work for them for free. They are truly evil and money hungry, heartless people.

  • Kola

    July 23, 2023 at 11:31 am

    Very sad indeed. Shows you how backwards Florida has become as a State. Willful ignorance and racism is the new norm.

  • Shaun

    July 23, 2023 at 3:01 pm

    Stop BlackWashing , Stop Building a cultural fairytale. Every Race experienced slavery, Cleopatra wasn’t Black , Roots was admitted by the author as fiction , Africans sold Africans , and had it not happened Black’s would still be smearing mud walls and eating mosquitoes in a paste. Get on with it already noone holds American blacks back except their on people. Just browse the headlines, murder – black, robbery – black , homicide – black , drugs – black , destroyed whole cities rioting black

    • My Take

      July 23, 2023 at 7:15 pm

      Change “black” to “redneck” (or “cracker”) and it still works, and has for a few centuries.*
      The GOP base.
      *previously more so alcohol.

    • Joe

      July 24, 2023 at 3:22 pm

      Speaking of racism… check out this racist poster Shaun!
      He really goes all in with this one.

  • Dont Say FLA

    July 24, 2023 at 10:35 am

    Rhonda is trying to normalize slavery and put a positive spin on it because universal slavery is Rhonda’s vision for our country’s future.

    All these lazy Maggas that refuse to work, Rhonda’s going to put them to work. Rhonda will claim it’s not slavery because they’re in prison. They’re prisoners, not slaves.

  • My Take

    July 24, 2023 at 7:16 pm

    All these lazy Maggas that refuse to work,
    The standards need an introduction:
    “Why did slavery begin in the American South?
    This region was settled mainly by the dregs of the British Isles, which had some real dregs. Gèorgia was basically a penal colony. These dregs and their scions were widely too lazy, drunk, or dumb fòr useful work,* far less hard work. So labor had to be found. Stealing it bothered no morals for there were none to be bothered.

    *Some real accounts from visitors in thè 1700s and early 1800s are mighty close to this.

Comments are closed.


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