In Florida, Kamala Harris blasts state’s controversial Black history standards

July 21 (UPI) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris went to Florida on Friday and denounced the state’s new standards on teaching Black history, saying, “They want to replace history with lies.”

In Jacksonville in what the White House said was an effort to “fight to protect fundamental freedoms, specifically, the freedom to learn and teach America’s full and true history,” Harris criticized the Florida Board of Education’s recent decision to adopt controversial standards on Black history.

Part of the new standards instruct educators to teach children about “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

The changes were implemented based on Florida’s Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, commonly known as the Stop WOKE Act, which passed in 2022.

“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?” Harris asked.

Harris delivered her remarks, which were streamed live by the White House, at the Ritz Theater and Museum on Friday afternoon.

“When we think about it part of true patriotism means fighting for a nation that will be better for each generation to come,” Harris told the gathering.

“We want to know we are sending our children out as role models of a democracy who therefore know the importance of speaking and telling truth,” Harris said.

“They are creating these unnecessary debates. This is unnecessary to debate whether enslaved people benefited from slavery. Are you kidding me? Are we supposed to debate that?” Harris asked. “This is not just about the state of Florida, there is a national agenda afoot.”

A day earlier, Harris criticized the standards in remarks at the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. convention in Indianapolis, Md.

“Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefitted from slavery. They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it,” Harris said.

“Speaking of our children, extremists pass book bans to prevent them from learning our true history — book bans in this year of our Lord 2023. And while they do this, it it out, they push forward revisionist history,” she said.

Florida officials, though, have defended the decision of the education board.

“State Board of Education just approved Florida’s first ever stand alone African American History standards. The standards teach it all: the good, the bad and the ugly,” Florida Department of Education’s Communications Director Alex Lanfranconi tweeted Wednesday.

“The intent of this particular benchmark clarification is to show that some slaves developed highly specialized trades from which they benefitted. This is factual and well documented,” William Allen and Frances Presley Rice, of Florida’s African American History Standards Workshop said in a statement tweeted by Lanfranconi.

“Any attempt to reduce slaves to just victims of oppression fails to recognize their strength courage and resiliency during a difficult time in American history. Florida students deserve to learn how slaves took advantage of whatever circumstances they were in to benefit themselves and the community of African descendants,” the statement continued.


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