Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Florida on Friday to address the state’s new education guidelines that limit how Black history is taught in public schools.
Harris accused “extremists in Florida” of trying to instill fear in teachers through book bans, restrictions on teaching about gender or sexuality and lying about slavery.
“They dare to push propaganda to our children,” Harris said in Jacksonville. “Adults know what slavery really involved. It involved rape. It involved torture. It involved taking a baby from their mother.”
“It involved some of the worst examples of depriving people of humanity in our world,” she continued. “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?”
Florida’s new guidelines, which passed on Wednesday, require lessons on race to be taught in an “objective” manner that does not seek to “indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.”
One update requires teachers to instruct on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” Another requires educators to instruct about “acts of violence perpetuated against and by African Americans,” including the Tulsa race massacre and the 1920 Ocoee massacre.
“When I think about what is happening, then, here in Florida, I am deeply concerned,” Harris said. “Because, let’s be clear, I do believe this is not only about the state of Florida. There’s a national agenda.”
Around the country, Republican-led legislatures have cracked down on how race and racism are taught in schools. States like Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio — along with Florida — have pushed bills that would stop or change how teachers instruct on race. This has included curriculum reviews, removing books from libraries and providing parents with more say in what their children are taught.
Harris said politicians are trying to divide the country with these types of policies, and Americans shouldn’t be “distracted.”
“They are creating these unnecessary debates,” she said. “This is unnecessary to debate whether enslaved people benefited from slavery. Are you kidding me? Are we supposed to debate that?”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is running for president, made it part of his gubernatorial campaign to fight against “wokeness.” He’s continued this tactic in his presidential campaigning.
Florida schools have been banned from teaching lessons on systemic racism — the idea that some people are privileged while others are oppressed because of their race or skin color. Earlier this year, DeSantis also banned an Advanced Placement African American studies course from running in public schools as well, saying the course “lacks educational value.”
DeSantis said on Friday that Florida would fight to “expose” President Biden and Harris’s lies.
“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,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Florida stands in their way and we will continue to expose their agenda and their lies.”
“The Harris-Biden administration is obsessed with Florida…yet they ignore the chaos at the border, crime-infested cities, economic malaise, and the military recruitment crisis,” he continued. “Maybe if Biden’s granddaughter moved to Florida he’d actually visit her.”
Black leaders across the nation this week also condemned DeSantis and the Florida Board of Education for the new guidelines. The Congressional Black Caucus promised to continue advocating for the passage of the Black History is American History Act.
Harris urged listeners on Friday to not let politicians divide the nation.
“We will be stronger if we remember,” the vice president said. “We fought a war to end the sin of slavery. People died…because of their belief that slavery was a sin against man, that it was inhumane, that it was not reflective of who we believe ourselves to be as a country.”
“We know our collective history,” Harris added. “It is our shared history, and we will not allow them to suggest anything other than what we know. The vast majority of us hang so much more in common that what separates us, so let us fight for what is right.”
Source: The Hill