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VP Harris to speak in Florida against new Black history curriculum : NPR

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Vice President Harris is expected to deliver a speech in Jacksonville, Fla., on Friday.

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Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Harris is expected to deliver a speech in Jacksonville, Fla., on Friday.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Harris is expected to speak out in Florida on Friday against the state’s new framework for how Black history will be taught in K-12 schools, including guidelines that slavery was beneficial to enslaved people.

“We’re fighting back against attempts to gaslight us, cover up our history, and rewrite the horrors of slavery,” Harris said Thursday night.

Changes to the social studies curriculum were approved by the Florida Board of Education on Wednesday. The divisive revisions come just months after the state rejected an Advanced Placement course on African American studies.

Harris will deliver her remarks in Jacksonville, Fla. She is also expected to meet with parents, educators, civil rights leaders and elected officials to discuss a variety of issues, including bodily autonomy, gun violence and voting.

Why some educators are against Florida’s new approach on Black history

The main criticism against Florida’s new social studies standards is that they are a step backward in telling a full and accurate history of America.

Under elementary school guidelines, children will learn to recognize famous Black figures including Rosa Parks, Zora Neale Hurston and George Washington Carver. But educators argue those lessons don’t go deep enough, failing to to include studies on their histories or struggles.

“These new standards will make sure that, through the fourth grade, elementary school students’ knowledge of African American history doesn’t extend beyond being able to know who a famous African American is when they see them,” the Florida Education Association, a statewide teachers union, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, high school students will be taught that some racially motivated massacres — like the 1920 Ocoee Massacre in which dozens of African Americans were killed for attempting to vote — were “perpetrated against and by African Americans.”

“That’s blaming the victim,” state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, who represents part of central Florida, said at a board meeting on Wednesday.

Arguably the most criticized were the guidelines for middle school students, which state, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Critics, including Harris, called the assertion that slavery was remotely beneficial to enslaved people inaccurate and insulting.

“They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it,” Harris said Thursday at the national convention of Delta Sigma Theta, a historically African American sorority.

Paul Burns, chancellor of Florida’s K-12 public schools, defended the new curriculum and argued that that criticism is a false narrative, member station WGCU reported on Wednesday.

“For the folks in the media and in the teachers union who are watching, we want you to please pay close attention because you’ve been peddling really a false narrative,” Burns said.


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