Black leaders vow pushback against new state curriculum guidelines
1861 --- An illustration of a slave auction published in the , February 16, 1861. --- Image by © CORBIS

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A new state curriculum guideline that frames slavery as leading to skill development benefiting some of the enslaved has ignited a national firestorm.

Outraged and disturbed by the state’s new African American curriculum standards, a group of the state’s Black religious and civil rights leaders say they will bring the “woke” like never before.

The group is aiming to open 25 new “Freedom Schools” by 2024, register 1 million new voters and assemble a “Teach our History Task Force.” Leaders set those goals after the state arranged a new curriculum guideline that contains the assertion that African American slaves derived some benefit from their enslavement.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said Florida is where “woke goes to die,” but these leaders say it’s going to be where DeSantis’ agenda for education will be stopped.

“If we don’t bash this racist curriculum in the head like the snake, then I’m worried that it will manifest all across America,” said Benjamin Crump, a nationally known lawyer who specializes in civil rights cases, particularly involving victims of police shootings.

Crump was part of a group of pastors, professors and other leaders who met for a Zoom conference Monday to discuss the points of a 216-page set of new state social studies guidelines that includes assertions about African Americans that have created a national furor, from President Joe Biden’s campaign to local teachers’ unions.

It’s reminiscent of the controversy when the state rejected the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies Course as “inexplicably contrary to Florida law.”

In this latest controversy, those leaders assembled Monday object to how the approved curriculum includes framing labor skills slaves developed as potentially “applied for their personal benefit.” It also states the study of massacres at the Ocoee and Rosewood, in addition to other racial incidents in the nation’s past, include instruction on acts of violence perpetrated “against and by African Americans.”

Virtually all scholarship on those Florida incidents in particular points to the harm coming from White mobs and falling on the Black community.

“We’re not going to stand complacently by and allow this Governor to dismantle our history,” said the Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes Jr, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee. “He is not going to rewrite and redefine Black history — not while we’re still alive.”

The Florida Department of Education said the new standards were the result of a “rigorous process,” describing them as “in-depth and comprehensive.” A Tampa Bay Times article, however, found several of the 16 historical figures cited as developing highly specialized skills during slavery did not fit that contention, such as noted educator Booker T. Washington, who was freed from slavery at age 9.

The group meeting Monday also called for Floridians to flock to the Aug. 26 march planned in Washington, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s fabled “I Have a Dream” speech that helped spur passage of the Civil Right Act of 1964.

The group will also be planning for a “massive” Florida demonstration in conjunction with the National Action Network and other civil rights organizations, against what they called “DeSantis’ attack on our freedoms.”

Tallahassee Mayor Pro-Tem Dianne Williams-Cox thanked the Governor for awakening the community to what’s at stake.

“You have sounded the alarm and we are answering the call. We are bringing everything that we have to make sure you and anyone else understand that Black history is American history and it must be accurate and it must be factual,” she said. “You cannot go … deleting it and dissolving our history. We’re just not going to have that and you cannot tell anyone that we benefited from slavery.”

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].


  • Dont Say FLA

    July 24, 2023 at 3:08 pm

    Rhonda should get out and pick some cotton without pay so he can learn the skill, “How to run a successful campaign for the US Presidency.”

    If Rhonda fails the exam, I bet 40 lashes and chopping half his right foot off would certainly motivate him to do better, learn that skill, and pass the exam on the second or third try.

    • eva

      July 24, 2023 at 3:12 pm

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  • Marvin Mouse

    July 24, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    Ben should sue those raindow groups for mucking up what kids are allowed to be taught in schools. All the Rainbow demands for sexually explicit pornagraphy in school libraries is what mucked up the situation for Blacks.
    Take those Rainbow groups to court Ben. Those Rainbow groups are made up of 98% white folk. Ben those Rainbow groups got monet lots of money. More money than you ever dreamed of Ben. Ben open your mind to this and get paid my man. Go get that money Ben. The left and the courts wont see it coming and will have no choice to rule in your favor. Dont leave that money on the table my man.

  • My Take

    July 24, 2023 at 3:17 pm

    “The Softer Side of Slavery” DeSScumtus has made up his mind. Discussion over.

  • Julia

    July 24, 2023 at 6:11 pm

    The article says that “professors” were at this zoom meeting. What professors? Why won’t any of them allow their names to be made public? Why is that no Florida historian or historian anywhere for that matter, has publicly come out against these standards; just politicians and the press. I would like to point something out to the Rev. R.B. Holmes: you are about to put a historic marker in your church’s front yard to Father James Page, a man who most certainly learned skills as an enslaved person that benefitted him after emancipation.

  • Bill Pollard

    July 24, 2023 at 7:16 pm

    Well, I have written some history and I am against these standards. They simply have no truth. How dare DeSantis declare those enslaved benefitted from their slavery! How dare anyone make broad claims that slavery benefited the slaves! And I’ll go one step further. I have ancestors who owned slaves, one of whom was said to own more slaves than any other slave owner at the outbreak of the Civil War. If I am willing to speak against these horrible teaching standards, it should carry some weight!

    • Julia

      July 24, 2023 at 7:35 pm

      “How dare anyone make broad claims that slavery benefitted the slaves.”

      If you have “written some history,” it implies that you know how to read, something that is belied by claiming that the standards make the above statement. What you say carries no weight whatever.

      • Julia

        July 24, 2023 at 8:03 pm

        Even Kevin Kruse, one of the most insanely left wing historians (at Princeton, no less) says that most of these standards are “fine” and only criticizes them for listing too many Republicans as civil rights advocates.

  • Thomas D James

    July 25, 2023 at 11:04 am

    awwwwww……….the poor little far left Democratic Marxists are mad because they can’t peddle their racist bs anymore. Looks like their everything is “racist” scam is up. People aren’t buying into it anymore. And they are losing! Big time! Desantis has mopped the floor with them here in Florida. Now the House Republicans are exposing the graft and corruption of the Biden regime. And what’s really great is WE control the US Supreme Court. But go ahead and keep crying. You guys are always good for a laugh.

    • Tjb

      July 26, 2023 at 9:52 am

      Looked up your name in the FDLE database. Are you the same Thomas D James in their sexual offender and predator database?

  • WGD

    July 27, 2023 at 11:31 pm

    For as long as people have enslaved other people, the enslavers have tried to convince the slaves that it was for their own good. Sadly, DeSantis and Republicans have decided to continue this tradition as a talking point. Do they really think they can fairly win general elections by appealing to white nationalists?

Comments are closed.


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