Vice President Kamala Harris Criticizes Florida Officials for Attempting to 'Rewrite History with Misinformation' in New Curriculum

Vice President Kamala Harris Condemns Florida’s New History Standards, Accusing State Officials of Spreading Misinformation

In response to Florida’s recently approved history standards, which include teaching that some Black people benefited from slavery due to the acquisition of useful skills, Vice President Kamala Harris expressed strong disapproval, deeming it an attempt by extremist leaders to propagate propaganda.

During her speech in Jacksonville, Harris criticized the curriculum, asserting that it was intentionally misleading children and aimed at replacing historical facts with falsehoods. She highlighted the responsibility of leaders to uphold the truth and ensure the well-being of the younger generation, stating, “This is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do that.”

The new standards, approved by the Florida Board of Education in a 216-page document, outline how public schools should approach teaching Black history. One particular aspect of the curriculum suggests that some enslaved individuals acquired skills during forced labor that could be utilized for their “personal benefit.”

Harris strongly challenged this notion, questioning how anyone could assert that any benefits could arise from the dehumanization and atrocities endured by enslaved individuals. Drawing from her own experiences in the public school system, she emphasized the importance of providing students with comprehensive information and encouraging critical thinking to nurture their leadership potential.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who previously blocked an advanced placement African American studies course, took to Twitter to criticize Harris’ visit, accusing Democrats of spreading lies about the state’s educational standards to push their agenda of indoctrination.

In response to reporters’ inquiries, DeSantis attempted to distance himself from the curriculum changes, although he defended the new standards. When questioned about the wording in the Board of Education’s guidance on teaching slavery, DeSantis asserted that he was not involved in those decisions.

The controversy surrounding Florida’s history standards highlights the ongoing debates and challenges in crafting inclusive and accurate educational curricula that reflect the diverse perspectives and experiences of all communities.

During a recent discussion, a speaker, whose name wasn’t mentioned, made remarks regarding the new Florida history standards, suggesting that some enslaved individuals might have acquired skills that later benefited them in life. The speaker highlighted that this perspective was the result of scholarly research rather than political influence.

In defense of the updated standards, members of Florida’s African American History Standards Workgroup, William Allen and Frances Presley Rice, described them as “rigorous and comprehensive.” They pointed out that the curriculum recognizes that some enslaved people developed specialized trades that had positive outcomes for them.

Vice President Kamala Harris, in a speech, encouraged Americans to confront their history, emphasizing that the nation’s past comprises both tragic and triumphant moments, contributing to the nation’s resilience. She rejected the idea of denying or forgetting history and urged people to embrace it as a means to learn and grow.

Prior to her address, Harris engaged with various local leaders, including Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, two state Legislature Democrats, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, and Derrick Johnson, the president, and CEO of the NAACP.

The NAACP previously issued a travel advisory for Florida, expressing concern about the state’s treatment of African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Additionally, the group criticized the updated Black history curriculum, advocating for students to learn about the atrocities of slavery and Jim Crow, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging those dark chapters in American history as violations of human rights.