Kamala Harris touches down in Jacksonville to rip state’s updated social studies curriculum
Image via AP.

Kamala Harris
The Vice President unloaded on the state's new social studies curriculum that suggests slavery had an upside.

The national furor about Florida’s new social studies standards including the assertion that slavery had an upside to the enslaved brought Vice President Kamala Harris to Jacksonville to decry state officials’ “lies” twisting public education.

“They are building in a handicap for our children, that they are going to be the ones in the room who don’t know their own history when the rest of the world does,” Harris said in a fiery, 22-minute speech at the Ritz Theater, in the LaVilla area of the city, a historically Black neighborhood dating back a century.

The country’s first African American Vice President also touched on state Republicans’ other “extremist” measures. She referenced the state’s Parental Rights in Education Law, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, which prohibits classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity, as another example. The project is simply un-American, she said.

“They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us and we will not let that happen, we will not let it happen,” Harris said, to rising applause from the crowd.

Harris’ trip was planned Thursday night — a last-minute affair — and she lamented that she had to make it all. The state’s extremists are raising issues that do nothing but divide people, she argued, adding that the effect of slavery on the enslaved should not even be up for debate.

One standard in the 216-page set of guidelines that 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.”

“Adults know what slavery really involved — come on!” she said, her voice rising. “It involves rape. It involves torture. It involves taking a baby from their mother. It involved some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world. It involves subjecting people to the requirement that they would think of themselves as less than human.

“So in the context of that, how is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities, that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?” she added as the crowd applauded even more. “That in the midst of these atrocities there were some benefits?”

She also attacked the idea found in the standards that victims of racial violence were also perpetrators.

“They dare to push propaganda to our children,” she said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign — on a mission to kick Harris’ boss from the White House — had already lobbed return fire before Harris took the stage Friday. She made similar remarks at a Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.’s 56th national convention in Indianapolis.

“Democrats like Kamala Harris have to lie about Florida’s educational standards to cover for their agenda of indoctrinating students and pushing sexual topics onto children,” the campaign’s prepared statement read. “Florida stands in their way and we will continue to expose their agenda and their lies.”

The campaign said that the current White House administration is “obsessed” with Florida.

“Yet they ignore the chaos at the border, crime-infested cities, economic malaise, and the military recruitment crisis,” the statement read.

Harris said she is a product of public education and recalled how her first-grade teacher attended her law school graduation. She said that these efforts are hurting teachers and undermining a mission that is ultimately about helping children be the best they can be. Their work — telling the truth — is necessary to carry the nation forward, she said.

“Remember the preamble to the Constitution of the United States: ‘We the people in order to form a more perfect union’ is part of the spirit behind our founding as a democracy,” Harris said. “Implicit in those words was an understanding. We are imperfect. And we must be honest about that, to understand then, our history where we’ve been and then having a North Star in terms of where we must go.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried issued a release shortly after the speech, thanking Harris for her support “coming to Florida to stand up against attacks on teachers, students and the truth.”.


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].


  • Thomas Kaspar

    July 21, 2023 at 6:18 pm

    Did she say how many Africans migrated to North America on their own during slavery era ?

    • Veteran nGrammy

      July 21, 2023 at 8:23 pm

      Not as many as the trumped have been told that is FOR SURE.

    • Thomas Kasper is Racist Piece of Trash

      July 21, 2023 at 10:53 pm

      What the f*ck does this have to do with anything?

      Defending revisionist history to make some outlandish claim that slavery had benefits is about as low as you can go.

      There is a very hot place in hell waiting for you.

  • My Take

    July 21, 2023 at 6:43 pm

    Conservatives today live in a world of lies.
    They are fundamemtally dishonest.
    They lie (and hate) like we normàl people breathe..

  • PeterH

    July 21, 2023 at 7:26 pm

    Quote in this article from a DeSantis apologist:

    “Yet they ignore the chaos at the border, crime-infested cities, economic malaise, and the military recruitment crisis,” the statement read.

    Only CONGRESS can alter existing or write new laws to impact immigration at the Southern Border. Florida has a dozen or so elected House members and two Republican senators who have done absolutely nothing to rewrite immigration laws!

    The president HAS NO AUTHORITY to write or alter law!

  • My Take

    July 21, 2023 at 11:50 pm

    A nice oùtcome would be Biden’s trouncing Trump (or DeSSantis), working progressively for two or three years, ànd then resigning/retiring, leaving the first woman and second black president to serve and then run as an incumbant.

    The nice part would be the misogynist racist Republicans’ heads exploding.

Comments are closed.


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